Back to About

Our Story

The story of FortWhyte Alive spans generations. Situated on a reclaimed clay mine and cement factory, it's an example of how we can change the landscape of our planet through sustainable development.

Aerial of FortWhyte trails and lakes in spring

Our Timeline

FortWhyte Alive takes its name from the surrounding neighbourhood. Our evolution continues upon the shoulders of many visionaries who led the way and our growing community who propel us into the future.

1888

Area was dubbed "Fort Whyte" after a top Canadian Pacific Railway official who battled to take control of the site from a rival railway.

1912

Canada Cement Company (later known as Lafarge) began mining the land for clay used to manufacture cement. Winnipeg residents used the area for picnicking and swimming before the company fenced the area off.

Historical photo of the clay mine factory

1955

Canada Cement employees formed the Lucky 13 Rod & Gun Club to develop the Fort Whyte Waterfowl Sanctuary and introduce Canada Geese and mallard ducks to the site.

1966

The Wildlife Foundation of Manitoba is incorporated by an act of the Province with a mission "to provide facilities and financing for education in the science and art of conservation of wildlife and its habitat.

1974

The Foundation developed the Fort Whyte Nature Centre consisting of the Kiwanis Reception Building and a waterfowl building with an incubator room.

1983

The new Fort Whyte Centre for Environmental Education opened an expanded 200-acre site at 1961 McCreary Road.

1984

Floating boardwalks were added to provide a close-up view of the wetlands and their inhabitants.

1986

The Kiwanis Touch Museum and beehive interpretive exhibits were added.

Close up of goose feathers

1989

Aquarium of the Prairies interpretive exhibit was added.

2000

The Alloway Reception Centre, Buffalo Stone Café, and bison prairie were developed. Land base expands from 200 to 640 acres

2001

Richardson Rrrrun toboggan slide was opened and Fort Whyte's volunteer base grew to 350 individuals.

2003

FortWhyte Farms social enterprise was born with a focus on employment building for youth through beekeeping and local food production.

A beekeeper holds up an active beehive.

Our Evolution Continues

Starting in 1907, The Canada Cement Company (now Lafarge Inc.) used much of what is now FortWhyte Alive to mine clay and gravel to make cement. By the 1950s, floods and other sources of clay made the Fort Whyte site obsolete. Our predecessor, the Wildlife Foundation of Manitoba, saw the old industrial site as a potential habitat and started reclamation work here.

By the 1980s, our focus shifted from wildlife conservation to environmental education, and we established the Fort Whyte Foundation. We opened our trails and Interpretive Centre in 1983.

The last 30 years have seen growth to the north, adding prairie grassland to our forests and wetlands, and growth of our environmental education programs.

Today, we continue to deepen our impact by expanding our volunteer base, our educational resources, and our own sustainability measures. We are looking ahead to the construction of a new facility, Buffalo Crossing – an 18,000 square foot multi-purpose building that will serve as a hub for more creative outdoor recreation and education.

Your Impact

Annually, FortWhyte Alive hosts more than 125,000 visitors and welcomes 8,000+ members who have become part of our community. Together, along with our donors, we are breaking a trail to a more sustainable future.