Fort la Reine was built by Pierre Gaultier de la Verendrye and his two sons in 1739 on the north side of the Assiniboine River along the Yellowquill Trail, just southwest of the City of Portage la Prairie...
It served as his headquarters for 13 years while he explored the territories to the south, west, and north. In 1852 a group of Cree Indians burned Fort la Reine to the ground. A cairn has been erected on the site of the original fort.
The official opening of the Museum took place on November 13 1967, as a Manitoba Centennial Project. The museum is dedicated to preserving the heritage of the Canadian Prairies and the history of the City and Municipality of Portage la Prairie. Fort la Reine Museum has over 25 different buildings displaying thousands of individual artefacts including native artefacts that pre-date the arrival of Europeans to more modern pieces such as farm equipment and military artefacts from the 20th Century.
Between the numerous buildings covering local history from 1738 up to current day, the museum has several reconstructions, although most buildings are original and translocated to the museum.
The present day fort at the Museum is a replica, built in 1970 by the maintenance crews from Canadian Forces Base Portage. Approximately 500 logs were cut and peeled to build the 90ft x 70ft x 11ft stockade and 18ft bastions. The bastions would have been used as lookouts with slots for firing rifles through. However they are not open to the public due to structural damage as they are made out of untreated poplars.
The Old Red Barn was built through a Local Initiative Program (LIP) and the materials used came from an old barn and two granaries that were carefully dismantled and re-assembled on the present site. Encompassed in the lean-to’s of the barn are the solid oak beams taken from the “Yuill” granary. This structure is typical of the construction and architecture of the local barns that at one time dotted the prairie landscape.
The Village Print Shop was built to resemble a “typical small business of the early 1900’s”. The dismantling of old buildings provided the lumber used in its construction. On display is an impressive array of printing equipment that was donated to the museum by Vopni Press of Portage la Prairie. The shop provides a vintage setting for the equipment and has been set up as a newspaper office.
A Local Initiative Program made a trapper’s cabin in the early 1970’s. The cabin was constructed to represent a typical trapper’s cabin that could have been found along the banks of the Assiniboine River. The logs for its construction were obtained from property along the Assiniboine. (The chinking between the logs and cement roof were not, of course, materials that would have been used originally).
Picture: Fort La Reine Museum