Pay a Visit to Historic Fort St. Charles on Magnuson’s Island of the NW Angle
Many who enjoy some history have visited Fort. St Charles. The fort offers a peak back to what life was like back in the 1700’s for early NW Angle visitors.
Restored Fort St. Charles occupies the exact site of the original log fort and fur-trading post erected in 1732 by a valiant band of French voyageurs commanded by Pierre La Verendrye. It is located at the top of the Northwest Angle in Angle Inlet of Lake of the Woods in Minnesota. This great inland lake with its numerous rock islands and tree-covered shorelines gives these waters a primitive rugged beauty as intriguing today as they were in the days of the early voyageurs who first braved its unknown hazards more than two hundred and fifty years ago. Indians later came to the fort bartering their furs, and some started to settle in the same area and grew sow corn and peas.
From Fort St. Charles other forts were established and a vast section of mid-continent North America explored by Pierre La Verendrye and his four sons. When originally built in the year 1732, the year of George Washington’s birth, Fort St. Charles was the most northwesterly settlement of white men anywhere on the North American continent.
To Catholics everywhere, it is also a reminder of the earliest missionary labors that occurred in what is now northwestern Minnesota. On June 6, 1736 an expedition departed from Fort Saint Charles, consisting of Jean Baptiste de La Vérendrye (the eldest son) with the Jesuit missionary priest Father Jean-Pierre Aulneau and nineteen French-Canadian voyageurs. They had traveled only a few kilometres from the fort when they were attacked by Sioux, who killed everyone in the party. It has been said the Sioux were retaliating against La Vérendrye, whom they believed was trading guns to their traditional enemies, the Cree and Assiniboine. The expedition members were killed on or near a small island, called Massacre Island, Ontario. After the massacre was discovered, La Vérendrye père directed that the bodies of his son and the priest, and the heads of the 19 voyageurs, be brought back for burial at Fort Saint Charles. The remains of his son and the priest were buried under the altar stone of the chapel, and the voyageurs were buried outside.
A reconstructed fort is available for touring and is open to the public. The fort is on Magnusons Island, located at the Northwest Angle. Accessible by boat, the Island Passenger Service of Angle Inlet, MN can provide you with transportation to the fort; during the winter months a snowmobile trail is open.