FORT LA REINE
Fort La Reine was built in 1738 and is one of the forts of the western expansion directed by Pierre Gaultier de Varennes et de La Vérendrye, a fur trader and farmer, was first military commander in the west, of what is now known as Canada. La Verendrye was an important Canadian Inland Explorer who travelled farther west than any previous European explorer ever had, from Winnipeg, then southwest nearing the Missouri River. La Verendrye was on a quest to find the route across Canada that linked us sea to sea. In 1738 Fort la Reine was built by La Verendrye on the Assiniboine River where present day Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, stands.
The fort served as a fur trading post. It was the primary base of operations for much historic exploration north and west. From Fort La Reine, explorers made their way to Lake Manitoba and Lake Winnipegosis, Lake Winnipeg and the Saskatchewan River. Fort la Reine is considered a National Historic Site. Currently the Bastion Towers and exhibit areas are not open to the public, pending restoration. The Trading Post is open!
The Fort la Reine Museum features several structures that highlight the history of fur trading and settlement in the Canadian Prairies: Paul House (1879), Trapper's Cabin, Trading Post, and the York Boat. Understand the hardships, ambitions, and manipulations of these early pioneers while immersed in their histories.
Like many rural townships in the Canadian Prairies in the mid-1800s, Portage la Prairie rapidly grew with shops, schools, and businesses. The Pioneer Village at the Museum replicates a prairie main street with the Fire Hall, Print Shoppe, General Store, West Prospect School House, Professional Building, and the West Prospect Church.
ERA SPECIFIC HOMES
Since the establishment of The Fort la Reine Museum in 1967, several homes from different historic eras were donated to exhibit the lifestyles, technologies, and designs from specific decades. Discover the Victorian Period on the Prairies inside the Hourie House (1890), jazz up your visit through the Case House (1920s) or Burton House (1930s), or see what life was like for the Campbell Family during the 1940s and 1950s inside the Douglas Campbell House.
AGRICULTURE & INNOVATION
Agriculture has been the primary economic driver in Portage la Prairie for hundreds of years. Explore this history through the Heritage Barn, Thresherman's Bunkhouse, and Allis Chalmers Building (featuring the World's Largest Indoor Collection of Allis Chalmers Equipment). Discover ground-breaking innovations and technologies through the Maintenance Garage or Railcar Collection, featuring the private business rail car of William Van Horne. If you are a military buff, you will enjoy the massive Southport Military Building, that includes artefacts and uniforms from 1900 to the Present.
PIONEER CLAY OVEN
Museum staff fire up the Pioneer Clay Oven several times a Summer and treat visitors to fresh baked treats. It takes approximately 6 hours to heat the oven.
The Assiniboine Tipi is a seasonal feature at the Museum, and is on display from the end of June to the end of August.
Situated just beside the Museum grounds, the sunflower field is part of this year's wildflower project. Visitors are welcome to come snap a selfie!
3 SISTERS GARDEN
The 3 Sisters Garden includes corn, beans, and squash. This traditional Indigenous companion gardening method is displayed for educational purposes.
The Community Mural is featured inside the foyer of the Allis Chalmers building to commemorate the late Gilbert Vust. The mural consists of artwork by Mike Blume, and tiles painted by community members.
WOMEN IN UNIFORM
Our newest permanent exhibit (Women in Uniform) highlights the sacrifices and services women have made in the Canadian Military. The exhibit is housed inside the Southport Military Building. Opens Fall 2021
Brooks and Pierre, our beloved Museum cats, freely roam the grounds and enjoy pats from visitors. They are housed indoors at night, and are brought home with the Curator during the Winter months.
Enjoy native prairie wildflowers and grasses, beautiful perennial gardens, and an excess of pollinators at the Museum. We are dedicated to preserving our prairie ecosystem and educating the public on its importance.