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The Forks National Historic Site of Canada

Variety Heritage Adventure Park Map

The Métis

Smiling toddlers enjoying the slide and Red River ox cart structure in the Métis zone of the Variety Heritage Adventure Park Slide down this fun version of a Red River Cart, a symbol of the Métis people.
© Parks Canada

Fun Stuff to Try!

  • Climb to the top of the Red River Cart and see if you can spot any bison
  • Pace out the width of the narrow ‘river lot’ and compare it to the wider ‘section’ of land more commonly seen in farming areas today

Did You Know?

Two historic cart trails at the heart of Winnipeg were once known as Portage Trail and Main Road.

What do the landscape of Manitoba and a wooden ox cart have in common? Aside from being two of the things that make Manitoba unique, they’re both symbols of the Métis community!

The Métis, a people of Aboriginal and European ancestry, came together forming a distinct society on the prairies in the late 1700s. Many Métis families settled at The Forks and worked as commercial bison hunters for the North West Company. A short distance from here, at Upper Fort Garry, Louis Riel and other community leaders wrote a List of Rights for the people of Manitoba in 1869. This became part of the discussions which led to the creation of Manitoba as Canada’s fifth province—the ‘postage stamp’ province.

If you look closely in this playground, you can see two unique Métis symbols:

  • the river lot, a traditional way of dividing land among Métis settlers on the prairies, is a long narrow strip of land that begins at the river and stretches inland; and
  • the versatile Red River cart, the early “transport truck” of the prairies, travelling in brigades (large groups) to and from other settlements and towns.

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