Historic Sites of Manitoba: Lockport Provincial Heritage Park / Kenosewun Centre and Museum (Lockport, RM of St. Clements)
The 5.5-acre Lockport Provincial Heritage Park, established in 1997, was home to the Kenosewun Centre, named from a Cree word meaning “there are many fishes.” It refers to the fact that, for millennia, Indigenous people fished at the site of the St. Andrews Rapids, now occupied by the St. Andrews Lock and Dam, constructed between 1908 and 1910, to enable ships to navigate through this treacherous part of the river.
Archaeological excavations in the 1980s found large numbers of fishbones among the artifacts recovered. More significantly, archaeologists found that, for a period in the 1400s, people grew crops such as corn here. They found charred corn kernels, hoes made from shoulder blades of bison, underground storage pits, and pottery styles that originated in the Mississippi and Missouri River valleys. They are believed to be the first farmers in the northern part of the Red River valley.
The government’s Historic Resources Branch conducted five years of archaeological excavations here, from 1984 to 1988 and, in 1985, used federal funds to construct a building as an archaeological laboratory where artifacts recovered on the site were conserved and catalogued. Part of the building was used as a free, public museum operated in the summer. However, after archaeological work ended, the building was in disarray by 1990, with a mouse infestation and a local businessman describing it as a “while elephant from the beginning.”
The building was affected by “repeated water damage over many years” and especially the Red River flood of 1997. It suffered extensive structural damage and, in the aftermath, profuse mould growth. The Kenosewun Centre closed in 2010. A draft Management Plan from Spring 2013 says the reason for the closure was “health and safety concerns.” The building is slated for demolition and the Plan says this will provide “an opportunity to utilize new features and methods to tell this story [of aboriginal use of the site].” Eight years after it closed, the building is still standing.
Photos & Maps
“Lack of money shuts museum’s doors,” Selkirk Journal, 5 July 1988, page 1.
“Archeologists dig into Lockport’s history,” Selkirk Journal, 26 July 1988, page 12.
“Lockport museum in disrepair,” Brandon Sun, 10 June 1990, page 24.
“Digging for treasure,” Selkirk Journal, 8 June 1998, page 10.
First Farmers in the Red River Valley, Manitoba Historic Resources Branch
Kenosewun Interpretive Centre, Lockport Provincial Heritage Park
Page revised: 15 December 2018