About Prince of Wales Fort
The Prince of Wales Fort near Churchill was an 18th century fortified base of the Hudson’s Bay Company, a fur trading business, and is now a National Historic Site of Canada.
Prince of Wales Fort history
Part trading post, part stronghold, construction of the Prince of Wales Fort by the Hudson’s Bay company began in 1731, at a time when its major shipment and supply route operated from Hudson’s Bay through Arctic waters. at a time of great tension between the English and the French.
The fortress was constructed to be an impregnable English stronghold, and today its imposing thick walls and 40 mounted cannon still survive along with the battery, cannon and powder magazine built to safeguard it on Cape Merry. As commander of the fort, Explorer Samuel Hearne surrendered it to the French in 1782, an act that terminated Hudson’s Bay occupation and terminated Prince of Wales Fort’s utility.
Prince of Wales Fort was designated a national historic site in 1920, and expanded by the addition of Sloop Cove and Cape Merry in 1933. The site was allocated this status because it commemorates Prince of Wales Fort’s role in the 18th-century French-English rivalry for control of the territory and resources around Hudson Bay. Fundamental to this commemoration is the role of the fur trade and its participants. The ruin that is Prince of Wales Fort is of both national historic and architectural significance
Parks Canada engaged in limited repair and restoration of the fortress walls in the 1935-1965 period.
Prince of Wales Fort today
Today, the picturesque ruins of the Prince of Wales Fort include its star-shaped frame with thick stone walls and battery including 40 mounted cannons. There is also a visitor centre with information on the history of the Prince of Wales Fort and exhibits about the site.
On the boat heading towards the fort, visitors can experience whale watching en route as more than 3,000 beluga whales gather in the Churchill River in July and August.
Getting to Prince of Wales Fort
Prince of Wales Fort, Sloop Cove and Cape Merry are all readily accessible by local transportation from Churchill, Manitoba. In Churchill, several commercial companies offer boat transport to Prince of Wales Fort, as well as bus transport and vehicle rentals to Cape Merry. Parks Canada does not provide transportation to the site.