Summer School Program

Presented by Bell MTS

We invite you to learn about Fort Gibraltar’s influence over the cultural development of the Red River settlement. Delve into the lore of the French Canadian voyageurs who paddled across the country, transporting trade-goods and the unique customs of Lower Canada into the West.


They married into the First Nations communities and precipitated the birth of the Métis nation, a unique
culture that would have a lasting impact on the settlement. Learn how the First Nations helped to
ensure the success of these traders by trapping the furs needed for the growing European marketplace.
Discover how they shared their knowledge of the land and climate for the survival of their new guests.
On the other end of the social scale, meet one of the upper-class managers of the trading post. Here
you will get a glimpse of the social conventions of a rapidly changing industrialized Europe.

Through hands-on demonstrations and authentic crafts, learn about the formation of this unique
community nearly two hundred years ago. Costumed interpreters will guide your class back in time to
the year 1815 to a time of immeasurable change in the Red River valley.

Fort Gibraltar

Originally constructed at the Forks, the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine rivers in 1809-10, Fort Gibraltar was a North West Company fur trading post. Although not terribly important in terms of the volume of furs that passed through her gates, Fort Gibraltar did play an impressive role in the development of the Red River Settlement and the legendary conflict between the two fur trading empires: the North West and Hudson’s Bay companies. Fort Gibraltar was reconstructed by the Festival du Voyageur in 1978.


  • 1. North Tower

    Climb to the top and get a bird’s-eye view of the fort and the Red River. Stroll along the firing platform and keep a watchful eye for those Hudson’s Bay men along the riverbank!

  • 2. Trading Post

    Come and see the various furs being prepared for shipment east to Montréal and the trade goods on offer to local trappers, Selkirk settlers and voyageurs.

  • 3. Workshop

    When not paddling a canoe or portaging heavy loads, a voyageur is put to work as a general labourer. See the tools and techniques used in the upkeep of the fort and the construction of day-to-day objects.

  • 4. Blacksmith’s Shop

    From general repairs to the production of trade items, the blacksmith is a highly skilled tradesman who works with a variety of traditional tools.

  • 5. Store

    Used primarily for storage, this cabin is filled with pemmican, trade goods and other items.

  • 6. Winterer’s Cabin

    Familiarize yourself with the day-to-day life of a North West Company voyageur or “engagé”. Learn about the living conditions and domestic life of these hard working men.

Register Now

Admission

Guided Tour
School Groups – $4.50 per student
Max. 60 students,
free admission for teachers

Reservations

Guided tours must be booked at least one week before your outing date. Guided tours are subject to availability.

Lunch

Fort Gibraltar does not offer any food services. However, Fort Gibraltar is located in Whittier Park, ideal for a group picnic.

Cancellation

Festival du Voyageur will not be issuing refunds due to illness, absenteeism or bad and/or severe weather. Also, Festival will not issue refunds for school bus cancellations by the schools or school divisions.

For more information, please contact us at 204-237-7692 or at 1-877-889-7692

Payment Methods

Visa, MasterCard, Interac, cheque, cash, or invoice

Please make your cheque payable to:
Festival du Voyageur inc.
233 Provencher Blvd.
Winnipeg (Manitoba)
R2H 0G4

Your payment is required when you arrive onsite for your tour, unless a prior arrangement has been made to invoice your school. A receipt will be issued to you when your payment is made.

Option 1

Grades: Grades 1 to 12
Title: The Fur Trade at Fort Gibraltar
Length: 2 hours

Originally built at the Forks of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers in 1810, Fort Gibraltar played an important role in the development of the Red River colony, the birthplace of the province of Manitoba. The fur trade was Western Canada’s economic engine in the 19th century. The following school program focuses on this commerce and all the parties involved in this enormous effort. Costumed interpreters will present the day to day life of a variety of individuals that lived in 1815.

Students will be encouraged to interact with a company clerk in charge of assessing the quality and value of the different furs. Your students will meet voyageurs preparing for their long trip to the “Pays-d’en-Haut” as well as winterers that live in the Fort year round. The blacksmith will demonstrate his trade and Métis women will demonstrate a variety of crafts, such as: traditional net-weaving, beadwork, and pemmican production. Through interactive demonstrations and presentations, students will be thrilled by the realities of life during the fur trade era.

Below: historical themes that students will examine at every interpretive station.

  • Palisade/North Tower – 5-10 minutes

    FORT CONTEXT

    • Original emplacement and construction date
    • Different companies involved in the fur trade
    • What is a voyageur?
    • Why does the fort have walls?
  • Trading Post – 20 minutes

    THE FUR TRADE BUSINESS

    • The furs
    • How to prepare fur pelts
    • The traps
    • The exchange with First Nations peoples
    • The trade goods
    • Conflicts between companies
  • Workshop – 20 minutes

    THE MEN’S WORK AT THE FORT

    • The carpenter
    • The shortage of timber
    • Tools of the era
    • Necessary projects
  • Blacksmith’s Shop – 20 minutes

    THE TRADESMEN

    • Technical demonstrations
    • Apprenticeship process
    • The importance of trades
    • The difficulties encountered in the transportation of materials
  • Store – 20 minutes

    PEMMICAN AND THE STRATEGIC PLACEMENT OF FORT GIBRALTAR

    • How to make pemmican
    • The role of Fort Gibraltar as an important depot for the Northwest Company
    • The role of First Nations and Metis women in provisioning
  • Winterer’s Cabin – 20 minutes

    THE VOYAGEURS

    • The different voyageur categories
    • The work done in the canoes and
      during portages
    • Voyageur songs and games
    • The way of life in the “Pays-d’en-Haut”
  • Campfire – 15 minutes

    THE MÉTIS

    • The work of the “hommes-libres”
    • Cooking demonstrations
    • Question and answer period

Option 2

Level: Grades 3 to 6
Title: The People of the Red River
Length: 2 hours

This program was designed to present the myriad of cultures present during the fur trade era. We will visit the relationships that existed between Europeans and the different First Nations, more specifically within Fort Gibraltar and the North West Company (NWC).

Costumed interpreters will present the day to day life of a range of characters that lived in the early 19th century: from the clerks to the Métis day labourers, to the tradesmen and the voyageurs. Students will be encouraged to interact with the past in a fun and animated environment. They will have the opportunity to touch furs, to smell the smoke from an open fire, to examine the preparation of pemmican and to observe the blacksmith going about his daily work. The NWC could never have succeeded in their efforts without the collaboration of the local First Nations and Métis people. The hunting techniques, the technologies (like the canoe), as well as the winter survival skills, were all derived from the influences of these first peoples. Students will learn that the interaction between these peoples have had an important and unique impact on Manitoba’s development.

Below: historical themes and important facts that students will examine at every interpretive station.

Palisade/North Tower – 5-10 minutes

FORT CONTEXT

  • Original emplacement and construction date
  • The importance of the Forks as a place of trade before the arrival of the Europeans
  • The companies involve in the fur trade
Trading Post – 20 minutes

THE TRADING BUSINESS

  • The exchange with First Nations Peoples; the ceremonies, the local groups, etc.
  • The furs
  • How to prepare fur pelts
  • Changes in First Nations lifestyle with the arrival of Europeans
Workshop – 20 minutes

THE MEN’S WORK AT THE FORT

  • The carpenter
  • The tools of the era
  • The adaptation of the First Nations technologies for use in the fur trade
Blacksmith’s Shop – 20 minutes

THE TRADESMEN

  • Technical demonstrations
  • Apprenticeship process
  • The importance of trades
Winterer’s Cabin – 20 minutes

THE VOYAGEURS

  • Voyageur culture and their personal histories
  • Voyageur songs and games
Workshop – 20 minutes

THE MEN’S WORK AT THE FORT

  • The carpenter
  • The tools of the era
  • The adaptation of the First Nations technologies for use in the fur trade
Blacksmith’s Shop – 20 minutes

THE TRADESMEN

  • Technical demonstrations
  • Apprenticeship process
  • The importance of trades
Winterer’s Cabin – 20 minutes

THE VOYAGEURS

  • Voyageur culture and their personal histories
  • Voyageur songs and games
Campfire – 15 minutes

THE MÉTIS

  • The work of the “hommes-libres”
  • Cooking demonstration
  • Question and answer period
Store – 20 minutes

PEMMICAN AND THE STRATEGIC PLACEMENT OF FORT GIBRALTAR

  • How to make pemmican
  • The Métis economy
  • The buffalo hunt
  • The role of Fort Gibraltar as a provisioning depot
  • The role of First Nations and Metis women in provisioning
 

Download our school program document (PDF)

Interested in our Summer School Program?