Historic Fort St. Charles was restored in 1950 by the Minnesota Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus, who have contributed funds, time and hard physical labor under primitive conditions to clear the site and permanently mark it with a Memorial Altar and later a Chapel of pre-cast concrete logs. Title to the property through their efforts was transferred to the Catholic Diocese of Crookston. It was dedicated on July 4,1951, by Bishop Francis J. Schenk.
The Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus has as its primary purpose the instilling of a love of country and the duties of citizenship. Its motto is "Patriotism enlightened and informed by religion."
The Fort St. Charles Story
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 who was born at Three Rivers on the St. Lawrence River on November 17, 1685. 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 it’s 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 it’s unknown hazards more than two hundred and fifty years ago.
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.