Posted by: sunnyharvy | June 6, 2016

Still Out Here

It is a LONG drive from California to Rhode Island! Especially when you choose to take the northern route over the Great Lakes. We don’t have any real schedule to meet, so we’re (mostly) enjoying the ride.

Just before crossing the Canadian border from Minnesota, we stopped at Grand Portage National Monument where we learned about the extensive fur trading that went on in this area in the early 1800s. The partnership between the Grand Portage Ojibwe and the North West Company was reportedly quite agreeable. The beaver pelts the natives brought to this bustling depot found their way to Montreal, New York, London and Paris to be made into fashionable hats. They traded the pelts for items such as blankets and metal cooking pots that made life a bit easier for them.

Our tour included an excellent video presentation at the Heritage Center as well as a self-guided tour of the depot that has been reconstructed in its exact original location.



A foot powered lathe being demonstrated.


Outdoor kitchen.


Bedroom/office for one of the North West Company’s executives.


Some of the goods available for trade.


Examples of the furs brought in by the Ojibwe.

One of the interesting things we learned was that the Jay Treaty between Great Britain and the United States acknowledged American control of the area where the Grand Portage depot was located. To avoid American taxation the North West Company moved their depot further north. The new fur trading post was located on the Kaministiquia River and named Fort William after William McGillivray, chief director of the North West Company from 1804-1821.

Today, with 57 heritage and modern buildings on 250 acres, Fort William Historical Park offers a vivid and rich tapestry of fur trade life, running the gamut from culture to crafts, medicine to business, domestic life to heritage farming. With our curiosity piqued at Grand Portage, we felt compelled to visit Fort William next.


We took the first tour of the day.


Nice to see the fort without a lot of tourists about.


Shops where several different trades are demonstrated.


Onsite working farm.


One of the interiors recreated with incredible historic detail.


Birch bark canoe building shop.


Tinsmith working at his craft.


We were there very early in their season, so much was still getting setup.


The busy cooperage.


The complex has camping right outside the gates so we took advantage of that.


  1. Be sure to plan a few days at voyagers national park. It’s free and a great place for multi- day portage free canoe or kayak touring. Clean water. No crowds. Lots of waterfowl. Also, the French river islands near Lake Superior is a good kayak destination. And if course, the Thousand Islands east east of Ganananaque is dotted with State Parks accessible only by small boat. The 1000 island suspension bridge is the best!

  2. I will have to see if my sister & family who live in Minneapolis have ever been to Grand Portage National Monument and Fort William Historical Park in Ontario. How fun to see a beautiful living history. Great photos – per usual! Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: