Lower Fort Garry was built 30 km down the Red River from Fort Garry [Winnipeg] during the 1830s as the Hudson's Bay Company's administrative centre for Rupert's Land. It was hoped that the lower fort would be free from the spring flooding that beset the older community and would house a more respectable class of citizen. But the original settlement was well located at the forks of the Assiniboine and Red rivers and even in the 1830s was developing as the natural centre of the Red River Colony.

Although it never achieved the status originally intended, Lower Fort Garry served in a number of minor roles. During the Oregon crisis (see Oregon Treaty) in the 1840s, a British army contingent was stationed at the fort; in 1871 some opponents of Louis Riel rallied around Stoughton Dennis there; and during the winter of 1873-74 the North-West Mounted Police trained its first recruits at the fort. It later served as the first provincial penitentiary and as an insane asylum.

In the early 20th century it was a residence for Hudson's Bay Company officials, and thereafter was leased to a country club. In 1951 the HBC gave the property to the federal government. It was designated a national historic park and, after restoration carried out in the 1960s and 1970s, the fort is now one of the major historic sites of Parks Canada.