Great Canadian Parks / Manitoba

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The Parks / Manitoba / Wapusk National Park

The early European explorers were attempting to navigate the North West Passage to reach the treasures of the Orient. The first group to camp along the Churchill was part of a Danish expedition, commanded by Captain Jens Munk. They arrived in the winter of 1619, but being unprepared for an Arctic climate, all but three of the sixty-four men perished.


The burgeoning fur trade eventually brought both English and French explorers to Hudson Bay, resulting in numerous battles for territory along the coast. The Treaty of Utrecht eventually granted the English sovereignty over Hudson Bay, but negotiations with the rival First Nations had to be completed in order to establish any permanent settlements. A Chipewyan woman named Thanadelthur accomplished this delicate task. A cairn erected in her honour commemorates her negotiated peace, which allowed the Hudson Bay Company to build its Fort on the shores of the Churchill River.


Hostilities with the French prompted the Company to begin construction of a massive stone fortification in 1732, to protect its ships entering the harbour. When completed 40 years later, it was on a par with the French fort at Louisbourg, one of the most magnificent masonry structures in North America. Fort Prince of Wales was to have only a brief period of glory. It was destroyed in 1782 by French naval forces under the command of the Compte de La Perouse.


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