Lower Fort Garry, Selkirk, Manitoba

Lower Fort Garry was built in 1830 by the Hudson's Bay Company on the western bank of the Red River, 32 km north of the original Fort Garry, which is now in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.


Penitentiary Building

[click] Penitentiary Building, Lower Fort Garry National Historic Park - Architectural Investigation Report and Proposal - 1972

The penitentiary building at Lower Fort Garry was the last of the three major stone structures constructed within the walls of the fort, following the completion of the Big House and the Fur Loft, and the last to be considered for restoration.


In size, structure, and general form, it is a twin of the Fur Loft and these two almost identical buildings symmetrically flank the central Big House. The formality of this arrangement is perhaps more noticeable now than at earlier periods in the active life of the Fort when a variety of frame structures stood in the vicinity of the three stone buildings.

Built for a utilitarian purpose, the penitentiary building has served a number of functions. Its detail is simple, its workmanship is plain; and it has the sturdiness, simplicity, and handsome proportions which are a legacy of the late Georgian industrial architecture of England and Scotland.

Although now referred to almost exclusively as the "penitentiary building", this structure was finished before 1845 for use as a warehouse by the Hudson's Bay Company. Subsequently, it was used as a barracks for the 6th Regiment of Foot (1846-1848) and for the Quebec Rifles in 1870, the first Provincial Penitentiary {1871-18'74), a federal penitentiary (1874-1877), the first Provincial Lunatic Asylum (1885-1886), and as changing rooms and maids quarters for the Motor Country Club (1913-1962). In 1951 the Department of Northern Affairs and Natural Resources received the building as a gift from the Hudson's Bay Company. The building was generally abandoned between the periods of use and occasionally allowed to fall into disrepair (Goldring 1970:7-8). Prior to the preparation of As Found Measured Drawings in 19'70, all later furring and plumbing of the Motor Country Club period were removed, leaving little more than a shell. Those few features which remain from earlier periods have been examined and conclusions have been reached concerning their historic period and function.