Travel back in time at Fort William Historical Park and discover what life was like in 1816.

Listen to an interview with current General Manager Patrick Morash and past (1815) Chief Director William MacGillivray about the 2023 The Great Rendezvous Celebration

Experience the conflict and adventure of the Canadian fur trade.

Fort William Historical ParkIt's a tough business. Competition is fierce. Voyageurs paddle thousands of miles with tons of prized furs. Explorers chart unknown, unforgiving territory. It's a dramatic chapter in Canadian history loaded with massacres, takeovers and arrests... and Fort William is at the centre of it all.

The Fort is an accurate re-creation of the North West Company's impressive inland headquarters. Explore over 40 buildings including the artisans' area, the working farm and the Anishnaabe encampment. Encounter a cultural mosaic of Scottish fur traders, Ojibwa and Metis peoples, and French-Canadian voyageurs.

From furs and foodstuffs, muskets and medicine, to birch bark canoes and livestock, there is no end to the discoveries you'll make at Fort William.

There are hands-on experiences too! Paddle a voyageur canoe on the Kaministiquia River, pet a goat, fire a musket, eat fresh baked bread or play a game of lacrosse.

Special events

Special festivals include Fort Under Siege and the annual Anishnaabe Keeshigun Festival. Experience spooky walking tours during the fall season at Haunted Fort Night or attend one of the many special events held at "the Fort" each year.

Fifty Years of Bringing Life to History - 2023 50th Anniversary article

David Thompson Astronomical Observatory

A marvel of modern space science, the David Thompson Astronomical Observatory at Fort William Historical Park is home to one of the largest telescopes in Central Canada! There are events and programs all year long.


8 Questions to Test Your Knowledge of Fort William Historical Park

1) True or false: Fort William was not a traditional fort.

Answer: True. Fort William was built for business as the North West Company’s inland headquarters; it served as a trans-shipment point between the furs coming from the western interior and supplies coming from Montreal. The walls were not built to defend the fort during  warfare, they were to control the comings and goings of people to the primary business buildings. This was especially important during Rendezvous when 1,000 voyageurs would be staying around Fort William.

 2) What is the name of the first bateau constructed in FWHP’s Naval Shed?

Answer: The Kaministikwia which means as the river with many small brush-covered islands in Anishinaabemowin (a bateau is a type of shallow-draft, flat-bottomed boat that was used during the fur trade). The bateau was launched in 1976.

3) What three buildings were complete when Old Fort William opened in 1973?

a)    The Great Hall, Taitt’s House, and the Common Gaol.

b)    The Naval Shed, Taitt’s House, and Boucher’s House

c)    Boucher’s House, the Apothecary, and the Naval Shed

Answer: B. The three original buildings are the Naval Shed, Taitt’s House, and Boucher’s House.

4) What full-length feature film was filmed at FWHP in 2018?

Answer: Abandoned: Angelique’s Isle, directed by Marie-Hélène Cousineau and Michelle Derosier

5) What was Fort William’s original name when it opened in 1803?

Answer: Fort Kaministiquia. The fort was renamed in 1807 after William McGillivray, chief director of the North West Company from 1804-1821

6) True or false: FWHP’s astronomical observatory is named after Simon Fraser.

Answer: False. The observatory, which opened in 2012 and features one of the largest publicly accessible telescopes in Central Canada, is named after David Thompson. David Thompson was an explorer and cartographer who mapped most of western Canada and parts of the east and northwestern United States.

7) What is Fort William Historical Park’s longest running event?

a)    Anishinaabe Keeshigun

b)    The Great Rendezvous

c)    Canada Day

Answer: Anishinaabe Keeshigun—it has taken place for over 30 years

8) Why did Lord Selkirk seize Fort William in 1816?

a)    It was retaliation for the Nor'Westers' theft of furs from a Hudson Bay trading post.

b)    He was carrying out an order from King George III.

c)    It was retaliation for the Nor’Westers disrupting his Red River settlement and the Battle of the Seven Oaks.

Answer: It was retaliation for the Nor’Westers disrupting his Red River settlement and the Battle of the Seven Oaks which left 22 people dead on June 19, 1816. On August 13, Selkirk seized Fort William and arrested several senior partners, including William McGillivray.

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