The History of Fort St. Charles
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. For more than one hundred and seventy-two years the fort was the burial place of the youthful Father Jean Aulneau, S.J., and his nineteen French companions massacred on a nearby island in Lake of the Woods on June 6, 1736.
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.