Historic Sites of Manitoba: St. Ambroise Entrenchments (RM of Portage la Prairie)

Historical documentation suggests that, in February 1864, a group of Dakota, led by a man called “The Leaf,” established a fishing camp in this area near Lake Manitoba, in what is now the Rural Municipality of Portage la Prairie. Early one morning during the last week of April or the first week of May, the camp was attacked by Chippewa (Anishinabe) bounty hunters from Minnesota. Six Dakota were killed outright and several later succumbed to wounds. The 10 May 1864 issue of The Nor’Wester noted that the Dakota were “busily engaged in fortifying their present encampment by digging rude earthworks and rifle pits.”

It is not known if the St. Ambroise fortification was built in the spring of 1864, but it did exist in 1873, when a “stone mound of Indians” was recorded at this location by William Wagner during his land survey of the shoreline of Lake Manitoba. The site is now a provincially-designated historic site.

The St. Ambroise Entrenchment is a continuous circle, 114 metres in diameter, containing several interior pits and an earthen embankment around its outer edge. Two circular pits are located outside the entrenchment—a larger one, 64 metres to the northwest, and a smaller one 20 metres to the east. The purpose of these pits is unclear; some have suggested they were wells or, perhaps, observation posts.

St. Ambroise Entrenchments

St. Ambroise Entrenchments (November 2023)
Source: Rose Kuzina

St. Ambroise Entrenchments

St. Ambroise Entrenchments (November 2023)
Source: Rose Kuzina

Site Coordinates (lat/long): N50.22673, W98.07728
denoted by symbol on the map above

See also:

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Flee Island Entrenchments (RM of Portage la Prairie)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Provincially Designated Historic Sites


St. Ambroise Dakota Entrenchment, (EbLm-2) SW 34-14-5W, St. Ambroise area, R.M. of Portage la Prairie, Manitoba Historic Resources Branch.

We thank Rose Kuzina for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 13 January 2024

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