Winnipeg lies at the confluence of the Assiniboine and the Red River of the North, a location currently known as "The Forks." This point was at the crossroads of canoe routes travelled by Aboriginal peoples prior to European contact. The name Winnipeg is a transcription of the western Cree word wi-nipe-k meaning "muddy waters"; the general area was populated for thousands of years by First Nations. Through archaeology, petroglyphs,rock art and oral history, scholars have learned that native peoples used the area in prehistoric times for camping, hunting, tool making, fishing, trading and, further north, for agriculture.
Before the first European encounter, First Nations peoples appear to have been engaged in farming activity along the Red River, near present-day Lockport, where corn and other seed crops were planted. The rivers provided an extensive transportation network linking many indigenous peoples, including the Anishinaabe, Assiniboine, Ojibway, Sioux, andCree. The Red River linked ancient northern peoples with those to the south along theMissouri and Mississippi rivers. The Ojibway made some of the first maps on birch bark, which helped fur traders navigate the waterways of the area.
The first French officer arrived in the area in 1738. Sieur de La Vérendrye built the first fur trading post on the site, called Fort Rouge. Francophone trading continued at this site for several decades before the arrival of the British Hudson's Bay Company. Many French and later British men who were trappers married First Nations women; their mixed-race children, the Métis, hunted, traded, and lived in the area.
Lord Selkirk was involved with the first permanent settlement (known as the Red River Colony), the purchase of land from the Hudson's Bay Company, and a survey of river lots in the early 19th century. The North West Company built Fort Gibraltar in 1809, and the Hudson's Bay Company built Fort Douglas in 1812. The two