Ask any Winnipegger to name a popular wedding venue in the city and Fort Gibraltar is bound to come up in the conversation.
This circa 1815 replica trading fort oozes rustic charm. The Great Hall aka the Maison du Bourgeois—and its clapboard wood floors, wrap-around porch and stone fireplace—has been a longtime favourite amongst brides and grooms. Set on the banks of the Red River, the Fort and its environs provide a picture-perfect setting for getting hitched. (In 2013, Wedding Bells magazine named Fort Gibraltar one of Canada's top-10 most beautiful wedding venues.)
And the menu—a modern and historical homage to Manitoba's food heritage—is varied and fantastic. Ingredients are local, fresh and everything is made from scratch. Some tasty dishes include: Grilled bison striploin, organic tomato salad, campfire Caesar salad, parmesan risotto balls, mushroom perogies and Manitoba pork tenderloin with John Russell wildflower honey.
The setting, the food and history come to life all adds up to memorable celebrations at Fort Gibraltar. Case in point: Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, throughout summer 2014, The Great Hall is booked for weddings; 82 in total.
But if you had your heart set on a charming party set in the past, you're still in luck. The Maison Chaboillez is a smaller but no less charming log cabin at Fort Gibraltar. Guests can choose from the same menu. Like the Great Hall, costumed servers can host your event and historical recreations—complete with faux gunfights—can be staged on the fort's walls or river banks by soldiers in historically accurate uniforms.
"Rustic is a big thing right now. We basically own 1815 voyageur," says Shawn Brandson, co-owner of Gibraltar Dining Corporation.
The cabin holds 48 people for dinner or 60 for a stand-up reception. The cabin is ideal for family reunions, birthday parties, bridal and baby showers, Brandson says.
The cabin has also been a popular ceremony and reception spot for smaller weddings, he says. That's thanks to the park-like setting, complete with an enormous shade tree just outside the cabin, says Brandson.
While the Great Hall may be booked for the summer, there's still room at the cabin, he says.
And there's still time to find out why 82 brides- and grooms-to-be have booked their magical day at this magical place.
"There are many places you can host events but many of them are hotel rooms or square boxes that you have to add ambiance too," Brandson says. "Fort Gibraltar oozes ambiance, it oozes atmosphere, it oozes history."
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