A network of 54 ring-width chronologies is used to estimate changes in summer climate within the Winnipeg River basin, Canada, since AD 1783. The basin drains parts of northwestern Ontario, northern Minnesota and southeastern Manitoba, and is a key area for hydroelectric power production. Most chronologies were developed from Pinus resinosa and P. strobus, with a limited number of Thuja occidentalis, Picea glauca and Pinus banksiana. The dominant pattern of regional tree growth can be recovered using only the nine longest chronologies, and is not affected by the method used to remove variability related to age or stand dynamics from individual trees. Tree growth is significantly, but weakly, correlated with both temperature (negatively) and precipitation (positively) during summer. Simulated ring-width chronologies produced by a process model of tree-ring growth exhibit similar relationships with summer climate. High and low growth across the region is associated with cool/wet and warm/dry summers, respectively; this relationship is supported by comparisons with archival records from early 19th century fur-trading posts. The tree-ring record indicates that summer droughts were more persistent in the 19th and late 18th century, but there is no evidence that drought was more extreme prior to the onset of direct monitoring.