Cannon from York Factory
W. North Company
Cast bronze, with iron pieces of field carriage
Lower Fort Garry National Historic Site
These two cannon, made for the British army by the W. North Company in 1843, were intended for delivery to the Red River Settlement. Capable of firing 12-pound projectiles, these cannon, cast in bronze, weigh 693 pounds each. The cannon were initially meant to be transported by York boat with the 6th (Royal First Warwickshire) Regiment of Foot in 1846; however, the bulky equipment proved to be too heavy and difficult to manoeuvre. As a result, the cannon were left at York Factory, an important outpost of the Hudson’s Bay Company on the Hayes River. For years the guns were situated in front of the Depot Building and used to mark the arrival of supply ships coming from Britain. In the mid-20th century the cannon were moved to Churchill, and they remained in storage there until they were damaged by fire in the 1970s.
Conservators from the Department of Canadian Heritage carefully cleaned one fire damaged cannon in 1981, using gentle soap, solvents, and steel wool. They then applied a coating of microcrystalline wax to protect the surface from future rusting. Following conservation, the cannon were moved to Lower Fort Garry, where they remain on display in the Southwest Bastion. After a delay of nearly 150 years, the cannon have finally found their originally intended resting place on the banks of the Red River.