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Original Fort Saskatchewan North West Mounted Police Post

Fort Saskatchewan

Other Names:
Fort Saskatchewan N. W. M. P. Post
Fort Saskatchewan N.W.M.P. Post
Fort Saskatchewan NWMP Post
N.W.M.P. Post
North West Mounted Police Post
Original Fort Saskatchewan N. W. M. P. Post


Street Address: 9330 - 101 Street
Community: Fort Saskatchewan
Boundaries: Lot 2, Plan 9221716
Contributing Resources: Archaeological Site/Remains
Structures: Provincial cairn

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel


Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
53.710889 -113.217564

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type


Recognition Authority: Province of Alberta
Designation Status: Provincial Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 1985/01/16

Historical Information

Built: 1875 to 1875
Significant Date(s) 1889 to 1913
Historic Function(s): Government : Police Station
Current Function(s):

The Fort Saskatchewan N. W. M. P. post has been recognized as of great regional and local significance to the area of central Alberta. There are, however, no standing structures of the original fort or its subsequent additions. Constructed by the North West Mounted Police in 1875, it was their second fort constructed in Alberta. During the 1885 rebellion scare, the fort became a focal point of regional security, the size of the force stationed there was increased, and structural modifications were made to strengthen the fortifications. In 1886, the surrounding palisade was removed. About the time the site was made headquarters for the 'G' Division in 1889, many of the old buildings were dismantled and the fort greatly expanded with much new construction. As a headquarters site, it was the base for many patrols, some extending as far as Fort Simpson and the Chesterfield Inlet, N. W. T. In 1911 the Royal North West Mounted Police transferred the property to the provincial government for the purpose of constructing a jail.

The Fort Saskatchewan North West Mounted Police post was the second fort constructed by the police. Several structural modifications were made throughout the history of the post. Feverish periods of building activity occurred during the 1885 Riel Rebellion scare and in 1889 after the site was made headquarters for 'G' Division.

Fort Saskatchewan has been occupied continuously and there was good reason to believe the site had been extensively disturbed, if not destroyed. Archaeological excavations, however, uncovered extensive structural remains and undisturbed artifact deposits dating to the earliest period of site occupation. The remains exposed were archaeologically significant and demonstrated a good potential for the further recovery of otherwise unobtainable, therefore valuable, information.

Structural remains of the palisade wall erected in 1875 provided otherwise unavailable information on site orientation, wall location, and more specific attributes of builder's trench width and depth, stockade post size, cross-section and bottom end-shapes, wood species, and wall dismantling.

Other structural features found included a large cellar depression probably dating to an early ice-house, then to a later residential structure; a possible privy deposit and a complex, unidentified construction of wooden posts.

Artifact deposits were associated, intact, with portions of the 1875 palisade wall, and with occupations postdating the period of wall demolition (1886). Artifacts from the site reflected such diverse activities as food preparation, storage and consumption; the usage of arms and ammunition; building construction, furnishing and tool maintenance; clothing items (buttons) and personal artifacts (pencil fragment and ink well).

In comparison, the Fort Calgary N.W.M.P. site (a Provincial Historic Resource) was more extensively disturbed. Ploughing activity, railway siding construction and erection of a warehouse totally destroyed about two-thirds of Fort Calgary and contributed to extensive disturbance to the remaining one-third. At Fort Saskatchewan, however, some of the original occupation horizon has been capped by landfill and above grade erection of buildings. Most of the serious damage has been caused by installation of subsurface utilities - sewer, water, power, and gas lines. In this case, perhaps only one-quarter to one-third of the site has been destroyed.

Historic documentation on the early construction of Fort Saskatchewan is sparse. There are few descriptive notes, two or three historic photographs and one diagram, this last item produced 41 years after the fort was substantially altered for modifications in 1886.

The only remaining and major source of information still untapped is the archaeological resource. The construction of new facilities or underground services at Fort Saskatchewan Correctional Centre poses a significant threat to the archeological remains that are still undisturbed. Even the few test excavations carried out at Fort Saskatchewan have uncovered historically significant data not available from documentary sources and contributing to a better understanding of the past.

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-0049
Designation File: DES 0565
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 75138
Website Link:
Data Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 565)
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