Wednesday, 5 August 2015

The Fence is Coming Down - Upper Fort Garry Provincial Park

Article by Laura McKay, on behalf of Heritage Winnipeg Corp.   
To follow up on this or any other articles on the blog, contact Heritage Winnipeg's Executive Director.


The moment many of us have been waiting for has finally arrived. The fences are coming down at Upper Fort Garry Provincial Park! The green space will now be open for your enjoyment, providing both a beautiful space to relax and an opportunity to learn more about this city's beginnings. 


Over ten years of planning by the Friends of Upper Fort Garry have gone into this project, with a few last elements still on the way. The Heritage Wall is set to be completed and installed this winter, and there are plans to eventually build an Interpretive Centre on what is currently a temporary parking lot. 


Screenshot from the Upper Fort Garry Park app - details further down the page!




Upper Fort Garry was an integral part of building the city that we know today. The area at the place where the Assiniboine and Red Rivers meet was a major trading post, allowing people from all over North America and from every direction to meet in the same place. Naturally, with its interest in the fur trade, this is where the Hudson's Bay Company decided to build its fort. 



When the original fort was destroyed in a flood, it was thought wiser to rebuild elsewhere, and so a new Fort Garry was built further along the river. However, the location was not as ideal, and the original fort was soon rebuilt, giving us the Upper and Lower Fort Garry's that we know today.  Lower Fort Garry more than meets the mark as a reconstruction and reenactment of a fort of that period, so a very different approach was taken with the rehabilitation of Upper Fort Garry. 


 

A great deal of thought went into the design of this park. What initially appears to be a haphazard set of flowerbeds and raised green spaces is in fact a carefully executed piece of art. As explained in this video, each "plinth", as they are called, is a sculpture of sorts, representing a building that once stood in Upper Fort Garry.  




The Upper Fort Garry Provincial Park App - "An Ideal Wayfinding and Orientation Tool"

The development of an app to go with the Park was a challenging process - the desire was to create a mobile learning tool that would allow visitors to explore the history of the site without getting too complicated. The prospect of using augmented reality - using your phone or other device to overlay historic photos and information over the image you show your camers - was explored, but found to be too inaccurate, due to the problem of trying to use GPS to locate sites in such a small area. 

The creation of a dedicated interactive game alongside the app was also explored. While this did not end up as part of the app, new features are being added all the time, so who knows what might show up next!  

Available for both Android and IOS devices, the current version of the app allows you to explore the history of the fort on site as well as at home. The app is simple and easy to use for even the most technically-challenged. Here's a quick tutorial on how it works:

This is what it looks like in the app store - just search for "Upper Fort Garry".

Developed by Pattern Interactive, the app features two sections: "Info" and "Map". The Info section gives you a brief overview of the Fort and the Park itself, contextualizing the rest of what you are about to see and read. 

 
The Map section gives a map of the Park, with labels and little markers to show you around. Turn on your location services to see what you're close to, and click on the little red marker to read more about the building that stood there.


Once you've clicked on a building, you have two options. You can read all about it now and take your time exploring the Fort. However, if you're in a bit of a hurry, you can also tell the app to save that information for you for later with the "Read Later" option. Lastly, if you're really interested in what you read, you can tap "More Info Online" to read even more on the subject.

  

We're very excited about this latest step in the Park's completion and we hope you are too! Enjoy the Park, explore the app, and tell us what you think in the comments or on social media! 
 
For more information about Upper Fort Garry Provincial Park, click here for last year's blog post about the unveiling of the project.  

Interested in supporting the ongoing Upper Fort Garry project? You can make a donation online here

Sources & Links

Friends of Upper Fort Garry website
Friends of Upper Fort Gary on Facebook
Friends of Upper Fort Garry on Twitter 

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