Upper Fort Garry was the last of five forts known to have been built in the general vicinity of Broadway Avenue and Main Street. The other forts included Fort Rouge (circa 1736), Fort Gibraltar (circa 1806), Fort Douglas (circa 1815) and the original Fort Garry (circa 1821).
After the flood of 1826 when the original Fort Garry was demolished, Governor George Simpson rebuilt the fort downstream in 1831 at its present location near Selkirk, Manitoba. An unpopular move because of the days journey required to reach the “forks” where trade was already established. The Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) decided to return to the forks and built a second fort in 1835, named Upper Fort Garry. An impressive structure, with four large bastions and formidable 15-foot high stone walls, its presence was meant to demonstrate the Company's dominance in the area.
The fort was named after Nicholas Garry, an important director of the HBC, who assisted in the amalgamation of the HBC and the North West Company. Buildings enclosed by the fort included the Chief Factors residence, officers quarters, barracks, general store, fur store, Governor's residence, pemmican store and a liquor store. In 1853, the fort was extended to the north. Wooden walls of two rows of squared oak logs filled with dirt were used instead of stone.
Traffic between the two forts was considerable. To traverse this trail, known then as Garry Street, the ox carts would travel 20 side by side, rather than in a long single file. This distributed the weight of the carts yet the creation of deep ruts in the soft earth of the area was inevitable. A wide road of about 120 feet was the result. This trail would eventually be paved over maintaining its original width and is now known as Main Street.
The HBC did not support settlement, which did not endear them to the people of Winnipeg who viewed this as a barrier to further development of the city. The purchase of Ruperts Land from the Company in 1870 ended the Company's monopoly, Charter and a historic era.
The HBC were to further alienate the inhabitants, when they opposed the incorporation of the city. Their property holdings became an important commodity and eventually the Company divided its Fort Garry Reserves into lots.
The fort was abandoned by 1882 and quickly fell into disrepair. The walls came down as Main Street was gradually straightened. Today, the North Gate is the only original remnant of the fort that has survived. Parts of its wooden walls were restored in the 1980's.