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The Forks National Historic Site of Canada

Variety Heritage Adventure Park Map


The Settlers

A child and his father playing on the steamboat in the Settlers’ zone of the Variety Heritage Adventure Park. Signs near the boat show the origins of newcomers in the past and present and respective settlement locations in Manitoba. Climb aboard the “Anson Northup” steamboat and learn where new Canadians came from—then slide back down!
© Parks Canada

Fun Stuff to Try!

  • Board the Anson Northup and pilot it down the “lazy Mississippi of the North”—the Red River
  • Count the number of different “welcomes” displayed on the Dominion of Canada sign
  • Don’t forget to check out the colourful posters enticing newcomers to Canada!

Did You Know?


Winnipeg’s population grew from 271 people in 1871 to 7,985 people in 1881. By 1891 there were 25,642 people living here!

The rivers were Canada’s earliest highways, and in the mid to late 1800s, steamboats travelling north on the Red River allowed supplies and people to reach The Forks in greater numbers.

The first steamboat to arrive here was the Anson Northup, a boxy and noisy craft, known as the “lumbering old pinebasket.” She puffed into The Forks on June 10, 1859 to a cheering crowd and the chiming bells of the St. Boniface Cathedral. Named after her owner, a Mississippi steamboat captain, she boasted three decks, four staterooms, and a cabin with twenty-four curtained berths or bunks.

Along with people, steamboats like the Anson Northup carried the materials, animals and other things that newcomers needed to start a new life in a new home. The Canadian West was seen as a great place to start a farm, a family and a new future. People arrived from as far away as the Ukraine, Iceland, England, and France, carrying everything they owned in one or two small suitcases. Between 1872 and 1885, two buildings at The Forks were used as temporary housing for up to 500 new Canadians at a time—8 people to a room!


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Adventure Zones: The First Peoples | The Fur Trade | The Métis | The Settlers 
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