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Canadian Historic Sites: Occasional Papers in Archaeology and History No. 4

A Brief History of Lower Fort Garry

by Dale Miquelon

A Half-Century of Gracious Living

Lower Fort Garry lay deserted for two years, and so it may have remained but for still another transportation revolution. The founding in 1903 of the Ford Motor Company serves as a symbolic date for the beginning of this new era. Throughout the first decade of the 20th century, automobile enthusiasm spread rapidly across the continent. At the same time, Canadian society experienced a reawakened interest in the "pastoral theme," as exemplified by the city dweller's desire to "return" periodically to a rural setting. The conjunction of the mass production of automobiles and this penchant to visit the countryside made possible the reopening of Lower Fort Garry in 1913. The fort was leased to a group of Winnipeg business and professional men incorporated as the Motor Country Club. A nine-hole golf course was established south of the fort; the canteen-kitchen hospital building became a stable; the old stone store-penitentiary a shower and locker room, the chief dwelling a club house. The club's chefs achieved a wide reputation for excellence. For half a century, members and distinguished guests enjoyed the leisured peace of the old Stone Fort. However, the increasing historical consciousness of the Canadian people prompted the Hudson's Bay Company to offer the fort as a gift to the nation. On 17 January 1951, Lower Fort Garry became a National Historic Park,1 The Motor Country Club's lease terminated in 1963, and the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development proceeded toward the restoration of the fort as a monument to the fur trade in Canada.

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