The Garden

Selkirk's plan of 1816 shows a large rectangle of land labelled "garden" in an area stretching from the north wall of the Common Gaol to the southern edge of the Dry Goods (Shops) building. Located near the Great Hall Kitchen, this garden supplied vegetables primarily for meals served in the Great Hall (known to the Nor'Westers as the Mess House) dining room.

There were many varieties of vegetables grown at early nineteenth century Fort William. At present we are still able to grow many of those same varieties thanks to organisations which promote the preservation and collection of varieties of Heritage seed. Cabbage, carrots, beans, peas, lettuce, onions, turnips, radishes, beets, potatoes, and squash are just a few examples. Potatoes are of particular importance at Fort William. They provided a substantial part of the staple of the fort's winter inhabitants. The vast majority of potatoes were grown in the fields but some were planted in the garden as well.

The availability and quantity of the vegetables would depend on the growing season and available seed. Early crops such as lettuce, radishes, peas, onions and some cabbage would be directed to the Great Hall Kitchen during the Rendezvous. Root crops, such as potatoes, would be stored for future use by the inhabitants. A variety of personnel worked in the garden: company engages (the most common name being Dauphin), Free Canadians, and Natives. Mr. Taitt, the senior clerk at Fort William, most likely oversaw all garden labour.