Churchill Historic Sites & Interpretive Centres
The Prince of Wales Fort, considered to be one of the most magnificent stone structures ever built in North America, sits on the banks of the Churchill River in Northern Manitoba. This massive, star-shaped fortress began as a simple log fort in 1719 and took more than 40 years to complete. Though it had walls 5 m (16 ft) high and 40 mounted guns, in 1783 it fell to the French without a single shot being fired. Afterwards, it sat in ruins until 1920, when the government of Canada declared Prince of Wales Fort to be of national historic significance and had the cannons remounted and the walls repaired. Today, the partially restored fort is a National Historic Site and one of the main tourist attractions of the area. The Parks Canada Visitor Centre in Churchill provides an excellent introduction to the sites and a look into the diverse history of the Hudson's Bay Company and its fur trade.
York Factory offers visitors the opportunity to experience the fur trading headquarters of the Hudson's Bay Company from the 1600s to the 1800s. They also offer information on the HBC's main competitor, the North West Company until their merger.
Cape Merry National Historic Site
Located on the eastern side of the river mouth, just 3 km (2 mi) from Churchill, Cape Merry was the site of a cannon battery designed to complement the Prince of Wales Fort in guarding the river mouth. Today, a crumbling stone wall remains remnant of the battery, along with remains of a powder magazine and one of the original cannons. Beluga whales frequent the river mouth and Cape Merry provides a great vantage point from which to view them. The area is also popular with polar bears--tourists be aware.