Ranked #1 of 4 attractions in Grand Portage
Category: Monuments/ Statues; Museums
On a hot sultry day in mid-July 1802, partners of the most successful fur trade company in North America, the North West...
On a hot sultry day in mid-July 1802, partners of the most successful fur trade company in North America, the North West Company, met in their majestic Great Hall at Grand Portage and voted to move their summer headquarters from the protected shores of Lake Superior’s Grand Portage Bay 50 miles north to the mouth of the Kaministquia River. Almost from the time the vigorous Anglo-Scot Nor’Westers had organized at Grand Portage in the mid 1780’s an emerging United States wanted them out. The July vote would mean that 18 buildings constructed from native squared spruce, pine and birch and over 2,000 cedar pickets surrounding them would be torn down, transported north in company schooners and used in constructing the new Fort William far from U.S. soil. As early as 2,000 years ago, Indian Nations probably used Kitchi Onigaming “the Great Carrying Place” to travel from summer homes on Lake Superior to winter hunting grounds in the interior of Minnesota and Ontario. In 1729 Cree guide Auchagah drew a map for some of the first French fur traders showing them how to reach the "western sea" of Lake Winnipeg. Other Europeans would follow, in time, Grand Portage became the gateway into rich northern fur bearing country connecting remote interior outposts to lucrative international markets. Reopened in 1951 as Grand Portage National Historic Site, designated a National Monument in 1958, its nearly 710 acres lying entirely within the boundaries of Grand Portage Ojibwe Indian Reservation, the reconstructed depot celebrates fur trade and Ojibwe lifeways. Today as yesterday, the people, the cultures and the land have much to share.