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Table of Contents
Foreword
Preface
Glossary

Chapter 6: Pre-historic and Early Historic Settlements

6.2: Fort Prince of Wales at the Mouth of the Churchill River

The photograph shows the mouth of the Churchill River 1 that empties into Hudson Bay 2 between Cape Merry 3 and Eskimo Point (just off the photo to the north). This is the northern terminus of the Hudson Bay Railway line, sidings from which can be seen in the southeast corner 4. Grain is transported from Churchill, Canada’s only Arctic seaport to Europe, during the short shipping season. A ship can be seen at dock 5.

Across the river is an indicator of a much earlier export item—furs. Fort Prince of Wales 6 in this almost vertical viewpoint displays the classical star shape that the British favoured for defence in the 18th century (figure 6.2a). The Hudson’s Bay Company built the fort in the 1700s to protect its fur shipping routes from attack. It took 40 years to build but was surrendered to the French by its governor, Samuel Hearne, without resistance, soon after it was completed.[i] The French looted the fort and blew up sections of the walls. The French released Hearne, but on his return he abandoned the fort in favour of a more inland location, above tide level where fresh water was always available.

This section of the coast is rising rapidly, rebounding from the release of weight on it with the melting of the last ice sheet. A result is the occurrence of raised strandlines seen near Fort Prince of Wales 7. On the ground, iron mooring rings where boats were once tied up are now well above sea level, as is the famous inscription by “S. L. Hearne, July ye 1, 1767” located at Sloop’s Cove 8.

Figure 6.2: Fort Prince of Wales at the Mouth of the Churchill River

Figure 6.2: Fort Prince of Wales at the Mouth of the Churchill River

Figure 6.2

Vertical air photograph: MH827068402-218

Flight height: 6,000 feet a.s.l.; lens focal length 152.034 mm

Scale: 1:12,000 (approx.)

Date: September 20, 1982

Location of Fort Prince of Wales: 59° 48' N, 94° 13' W

Map sheets: 1:250,000 54L Churchill

1:50,000 54L/16 Churchill

Notes

[i] For a discussion of his motives see McGoogan, K. Ancient Mariner. New York: Carroll and Graf Publishers, 2004.


 


Figure 6.2.a: Plan of Fort Prince of Wales

Figure 6.2.a: Plan of Fort Prince of Wales