Organizers set goal of $200,000 for fundraising campaign
Museum’s Fort in need of significant facelift
La Verendrye's replica fort at the Fort la Reine Museum is in need of a significant facelift to bring it up to modern day safety regulations. (Photo courtesy fortlareinemuseum.com)
An important piece of Portage history is in need of a several-hundred thousand dollar makeover.
The replica of La Verendrye’s fort at the Fort la Reine Museum is nearing its fiftieth year of existence, and if it hopes to see that milestone, will require a significant sum of money in order to bring the structure up to modern day safety regulations.
“We really need to raise the funds to help the structure because it’s a big part of our history of the Manitoba prairies,” says Tracey Turner, Fort la Reine Museum’s executive director. “The replica we have was built in 1970 and needs to be replaced as it’s not habitable as a museum building.”
Originally erected in 1738 on the shores of the mighty Assiniboine River, where present day Portage la Prairie sits, the Fort served as a fur trading post and was the primary base of operations for exploration both north and west.
“La Verendrye was an important inland explorer who was a huge part of our historic legacy in Canada, and really spearheaded the expansion of Canada westward,” adds Turner. “Unfortunately the fort itself has to be 100 per cent replaced. It’s not something we can restore with an infrastructure grant. So it will be a new build, but an authentic replica rebuild.”
The museum launched its fundraising goal at the end of November to coincide with the Giving Tuesday initiative. The day is recognized as a global day of giving that encourages philanthropy worldwide following Black Friday and Cyber Monday – two days more or less known for consumerism and the obtainment of material goods.
The actual Fort that sits on museum land and is in need of some TLC is towards the rear of the property and includes two large bastions that would have served as an outlook post for any approaching threats.
The museum has been a rapidly growing attraction in Portage and with Turner at the helm, has seen attendance numbers more than double in the past few years. In 2017 alone, the museum welcomed more than 13,000 visitors through its gates for notable events such as the annual Ghost Walk and the Mystery at the Museum, which accompany the many different exhibitions featured throughout the year.
The museum is aiming to raise $200,000 for the project and donations have already begun pouring in.
“We need to raise a certain amount of money before we can hire someone because it’s a fairly large project,” says Turner. “Given the profile of Giving Tuesday and this time of year, we thought it was the right time to start the campaign, and hopefully bring people’s focus to the museum and the incredible exhibits we bring in every year.”
To help fund the Fort’s facelift, donations can be made at givingtuesday.ca/partners/fort-la-reine-museum or fortlareinemuseum.com/flag-the-fort-campaign/.
“The Fort is an integral part of the site so we want to keep it up, but if we don’t raise the funds to fix it, we’ll have to tear it down,” she says.