The Historic Collection

Tradesman and woman holding wooden bucketThe Fort's Historic Collection of approximately 15,000 objects encompasses the material culture of the Fort. The majority of the objects are functional pieces such as glassware, furniture, tools, and utensils. Some of the works, however, are surprisingly ornate given the wilderness location of the Fort and the time period. Original objects from the early nineteenth century, although not original to the Fort, represent approximately half of our collection while the other half consists of reproduction objects. Many of our reproductions have been created by artisans at the Fort such as our blacksmith, cooper, armourer, tinsmith, and carpenter. Some of the highlights of our diverse collection include birch bark canoes - vehicles essential to the operation of the fur trade, a team of draft horses used to work the Fort's farm, and a reproduction portraiture collection of North West Company dignitaries and other important historic figures. The breadth of the collection is also demonstrated by our fully operational period fire engine and our intriguing, and somewhat intimidating, electrifying machine used to treat a staggering variety of ills.

The Fort's Historic Collection is unique because close to 95% of it is displayed in its 1816 context on our historic grounds. Exhibits are set up to let visitors get very close to objects and no visit to the Fort would be complete without handling some of our reproduction pieces. These items are essential in providing a historically accurate setting that allows people to travel back in time and experience early nineteenth-century life. Visitors' immersion into the life of the Fort also means getting close to our living artifacts. So be prepared to lend a hand - you may find yourself milking a cow on our farm, helping the baker take fresh loaves of bread from the oven, harnessing one of our draft horses, or helping the proprietor of the Fort arrest a rowdy voyageur.

Fort William Historical Park prides itself on the unique and unforgettable living history experiences created by our hands-on approach to our collections.