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River Lot 3, Victoria Settlement

Pakan, Near

Other Names:
Free Trader's Cabin (River Lot #3)
Free Trader's Homestead
John Geiger Property
Old McGillivray House
River Lot Three - Victoria Settlement
River Lot Three - Victoria Settlement (McGillivray House)
RL 3, Victoria Settlement - Free Trader's House
Victoria Settlement Provincial Historic Site & Area

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
River Lot 3 consists of four log structures on a property of 27.7 hectares on the north bank of the North Saskatchewan River. These include a one and one-half storey main residence constructed circa 1882, and a detached summer kitchen, store house, and barn built around 1903. The site also contains foundations of a fifth building, and remains of other structures as well as the former Victoria to Winnipeg Trail. The Lot is located adjacent to the Hudson Bay Company (H.B.C.) post Fort Victoria and the Pakan settlement in the Municipality of Smoky Lake.

Heritage Value
The heritage value of River Lot 3 lies in its association with the Victoria Settlement, one of the earliest in Western Canada, early Metis settlement, and the region's transition from a fur trade to an agricultural economy.

Occupation of the lot dates to the arrival of Metis settlers from Red River in 1865. The original purpose of Victoria Settlement was to supply food to employees of the fur trade. When the nine river lots were surveyed in 1884, buildings already existed on what became Lot 3. The house that remains, however, was erected sometime between 1873-96 by trader Edward McGillivray on Lot 7, and later reconstructed on Lot 3. McGillivray belonged to a prominent fur trading family; his grandfather, William McGillivray, was a chief partner in the North West Company (N.W.C.) and served the H.B.C. at various posts in the northwest before retiring at Victoria Settlement to work as an independent trader. In turn Edward's son, Simon, was the first operator of the river ferry at the rapidly growing settlement of Pakan. In 1902, ownership of River Lot 3 passed to James Alexander Kennedy, son of George Kennedy, the last clerk of Fort Victoria. James, who erected the store house and the barn, was a farmer, implements dealer and owner of a general store. Thus River Lot 3 reflects the transition at Victoria Settlement from an outpost of the fur trade to an emerging agricultural community.

River Lot 3 is also valuable for its representation of settlement buildings, including elements typical of fur trade-era construction (horizontal log construction with dovetail notches, and decorative beads on ceiling joists found in other H.B.C. buildings) and of prairie farm and ranch buildings (round log construction with saddle and dovetail notches). The site is a rare near-intact example of the river lot that characterized early Metis settlement in the northwest (compared to the rectangular lots of later surveys). It contributes to the historical character of the area, which includes the Victoria Settlement Provincial Historic Site with the Clerk's quarters of Fort Victoria, remains of the Methodist Mission, and the 1906 Pakan United Church.

(Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, File: Des. 1879)

Character-Defining Elements
The heritage value of River Lot 3 resides in such character-defining elements as:
- form, scale, massing and orientation of all structures;
- remains of road and trails.

Main House:
- end-gabled one and one-half storey log house with a steep pitched roof;
- orientation of building with front facade facing south toward the river;
- walls constructed of hand-hewn horizontal logs with dovetailed notches and gable ends finished with sidewall shingles;
- foundation of dry laid fieldstones;
- fenestration pattern with offset front door (south), central window and door (west), windows (east), and door that led to the summer kitchen (north). Windows on the first floor level are single hung two-over-two units; windows in the gable ends on the second level are six-over-six units with some original float glass;
- finished exposed square ceiling joists attached with half lap joints to the top logs of the north and south walls;
- decorative bead on each of the two exposed corners of the ceiling beams;
- second floor rafter and cross tie system, with frame system for gable ends, layered on the outside with shiplap sheathing under cedar shingles, on the interior with whitewashed shiplap material;

Interior features such as:
- main floor of shaped log joists and tongue and groove finish; second floor of single layer of tongue and groove material perpendicular to ceiling joists;
- staircase located in southeast corner with a closed riser;
- lath and mud plaster with whitewash and unfinished spruce;
- squared nails;
- chimney holes on east and west elevations;
- access hatch to the cellar dugout in the centre of the floor;
- wood partition dividing second floor into three areas;
- exterior logs, roof rafters, ceiling beams and gable end windows reused from original building as constructed on Lot 7.

Summer Kitchen
- single storey building of round poplar log walls with dovetailed notches and horizontal siding on a frame system in the gable ends;
- medium pitched roof clad in cedar shingles with remains of chimney;
- interior plastered and whitewashed.

- small rectangular structure of horizontal round logs with round saddle notches;
- low pitched cedar shingle roof on shiplap sheathing, with horizontal siding in gable ends;
- fenestration pattern including barn door and 4 four-pane windows (south elevation), six-pane window (west);
- stone rubble foundation.

Old Barn
- construction of horizontal logs with dovetail notches;
- fieldstone foundation;
- low pitched cedar shingle roof with framed gable ends clad in vertical rough sawn siding;
- simple barn door on south elevation.


Street Address: Victoria Settlement
Community: Pakan, Near
Boundaries: Portion of River Lot 3, Victoria Settlement
Contributing Resources: Archaeological Site/Remainss: 2
Buildings: 3
Structures: 1

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD

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


Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
54.011966 -112.396594 GPS NAD 83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type


Recognition Authority: Province of Alberta
Designation Status: Provincial Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 2001/05/09

Historical Information

Built: 1882 to 1882
Period of Significance: N/A
Theme(s): Peopling the Land : Settlement
Historic Function(s): Commerce / Commercial Services : Trading Post
Current Function(s):

Four log structures (house, summer kitchen, barn and storehouse) represent an intact homestead configuration of Metis settlement at Victoria Settlement. Occupation of the lot dates to the arrival of Metis settlers from Red River in 1865. The house, dating from circa 1882 was erected by fur trader Edward McGillivray and relocated from its original location at Lot 7 to Lot 3. McGillivray, grandson of William McGillivray, one of the chief partners of the North West Company served the Hudson's Bay Company (H.B.C.) at various posts, including Cumberland, Peace River and Lesser Slave Lake before retiring at Victoria Settlement. During the early years of the 1900s the ownership of the River Lot 3 passed to James Alexander Kennedy the son of George Kennedy - the last clerk for Fort Victoria. The storehouse and possibly the barn on the site date from this period and represent the transition period at Victoria Settlement when it shifted from being an outpost of the fur trade to an emerging agricultural community. This relatively complete homestead configuration is not only unique for Victoria Settlement but possibly for all river lot communities in the province. The River Lot 3 building inventory is an important historical resource relating in particular to Victoria Settlement and early Metis settlement in general. The research undertaken by the applicant augments the extensive research which has been undertaken on the settlement in the past and will not doubt serve as an important case study for the preservation of what remains of the province's remaining river lot system. The restoration of the structural resources of River Lot 3 would reinforce significantly those resources currently preserved at the Victoria Settlement Provincial Historic Site, and enhance the entire character of Victoria Settlement.


The River Lot 3 site consists of four related structures forming a homestead site: a house, a summer kitchen, a barn and a storehouse (storage building). The latter three building were apparently constructed in about 1903. The one and one-half storey hewn log house may have been originally built between 1872 and 1896, and would thus be one of the oldest in the district. A feature which tends to support this theory is the decorative bead on ceiling joists, which resembles those in the rectory at Dunvegan. It is theorized that this house was reconstructed on this site from a much older house some time around 1903. The buildings were last used in the late 1940s for storage, and have since been abandoned. Exterior chinking, mud plaster, and whitewash have long since vanished from the structures, as have interior finishes of similar but finer type. The site is in close proximity to the Fort Victoria site.

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-0971
Designation File: DES 1879
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 81390
Website Link:
Data Source: Alberta Culture and Tourism, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 1879)
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