Powder Magazine

The storage of gunpowder and firearms necessitated a secure and relatively fireproof building. Thus we find the Powder Magazine of stone construction and tin roof. The building is so constructed that the thick stone walls channel the force of an explosion upward. This would lift the roof off the stone walls it sits on. Thus limiting the side ways force of the explosion. The lower sides are further enforced with earth to catch some of the stone from the wall. The building is further secured with its own palisade and lockable gate. An important item to keep in mind when you are storing 6,900 pounds of gunpowder and 280 Kegs of High and Low Wines. The Powder Magazine had two functions, one related to the conduct of the fur trade and the other to the defence of Fort William.

Here in the Magazine would be the years supply of gunpowder, flints, and North West Trade muskets for trading. Except those goods destined to be sold at Fort William the rest would be packaged and shipped westward to the Wintering Trading Posts for sale.Natives depended on the arms and ammunition at Fort William for their winter meat supply and Company personnel would use these goods to supplement their winter diet with fresh meat.

The Powder Magazine was more than just another warehouse. It was also a major component in Fort William's fortification against possible attack. This was made necessary due to the War of 1812 and the conflicts with Lord Selkirk and the Hudson Bay Company.

From 1818 to 1821, military equipment is listed in the inventories under the heading "Armoury". Included in 1820 were 48 new English and 59 American muskets complete with cartridge boxes and bayonets, 13 iron guns, 8 brass field pieces, 3 blunderbusses, 2 wall pieces, 57 fusils, 173 Kegs of gunpowder and 80 pistols.

There has been much conjecture about the Armoury and the reasons for this array of arms at Fort William. Even before the Selkirk affair, Fort William had "carriage" guns and muskets with bayonets. In 1812 some of these equipments including men and local native warriors were sent to Sault Ste. Marie to assist in preparations for the British attack on the U.S. base at Michilimackinac. Whether more arms came to Fort William as a result of the War of 1812 is not clear. The North West Company raised a Corps of Canadian Voyageurs under Lieutenant - Colonel William McGillivray which fought in Lower Canada, and it is possible that Fort William became a depot for a military arsenal.