Old Fort William Thunder Bay Reviews
A Journey Back Into Time, A Living Experience Jun 10, 2009
The original trading post was located at Grand Portage, Minnesota, however the British/Canadian fur traders had been forced to abandon Grand Portage as their centre of operations when that area was ceded to the United States after the American Revolution, and to avoid American taxes the trading post was moved to what became Fort William on the Canadian side of the border.
Fort William Historical Park is known as a living history site, where reconstructed buildings and costumed historical interpreters recreate Fort William of the year 1815. At that time Fort William was not primarily a settlement, but a central transport depot within the now-defunct North West Company's network of fur trade outposts. Due to its central role, Fort William was much larger and more multifaceted than the average fur trade post. Reflecting this, Fort William Historical Park contains 42 reconstructed buildings, a reconstructed Ojibwa village, and a small farm. Historical interpreters represent the many roles and cultures involved in the fur trade, including Scottish fur traders, French Canadian voyageurs and workers, and native hunters. The native people in the Fort William area are predominantly Ojibwa and are represented accordingly among the interpreters.
Fort William Historical Park may also be noted for its working community of skilled tradesmen, including a blacksmith, tinsmith, carpenter, cooper, and birch bark canoe builder who all work according to traditional 19th-century methods. Many of their crafts are not widely practised elsewhere, and Fort William's canoe builder has built birch bark canoes for other Canadian cultural sites, including the Canadian Museum of Civilization.
Each summer Fort William Historical Park hosts the Great Rendezvous, a recreation of the annual meeting of company fur traders that took place at this central location. Participants from all over Canada and the United States register to camp for the weekend at Fort William Historical Park and take part in this historical reenactment.
Fort William Historical Park is located on the banks of the Kaministiquia River at Point de Meuron. This point is a few kilometres upstream from the original fort's site, which has been built over as part of the city of Thunder Bay, but holds historical significance of its own. Point de Meuron derives its name from the mercenary De Meuron soldiers who used the point as a base camp when attacking Fort William on behalf of the North West Company's rival, the Hudson's Bay Company, in 1816.
Fort William Historical Park is a historical site operated by the Ontario provincial government. It has been noted as one of Canada's top ten tourist attractions and as one of Canada's top living history sites.
Part of the A review of my hometown, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada travel blog
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