Logged in as user  [Login]  |
ARHP
Return to Search Results Printable Version
 





Key Number: HS 75138
Site Name: Fort Saskatchewan N.W.M.P. Post
Other Names:
Site Type: 1311 - Governmental: Police Station or Post
1910 - Archaeological Site

Location

ATS Legal Description:
Twp Rge Mer
54 22 4


Address: 9330 - 101 Street
Number: 30
Street: 101
Avenue: 93
Other:
Town: Fort Saskatchewan
Near Town:

Media

Type Number Date View
Source

Architectural

Style:
Plan Shape:
Storeys:
Foundation:
Superstructure:
Superstructure Cover:
Roof Structure:
Roof Cover:
Exterior Codes:
Exterior: N/A
Interior: N/A
Environment:
Condition: N/A
Alterations: N/A

Historical

Construction: Construction Date:
Usage: Usage Date:
N/A

Owner: Owner Date:
N/A

Architect: N/A
Builder: N/A
Craftsman: N/A
History:   Constructed in the spring of 1875, Fort Saskatchewan served as the northern headquarters of the North West Mounted Police. In 1885, following the Riel Rebellion, Fort Saskatchewan became the headquarters of the newly constituted 'G' Division of the NWMP but at the year end the headquarters were moved to Edmonton where they remained for only a few months. In 1886 in preparation for the return to Fort Saskatchewan the original buildings were removed for new construction, which served until 1908. The site was later leveled for the construction of the correctional institution and only a corner of the Fort grounds remains exposed. Historical Significance : The first fort to built by the North West Mounted Police in the northern half of the province, the original Fort Saskatchewan served as headquarters for the force from 1875 until 1885. An average of twenty men were stationed at the Fort. This number was increased substantially, during the Riel Rebellion, when 40 members of the 65th Montreal Rifles were sent to strengthen the Fort's guard. This is credited with preventing any major attacks or incidents at the Fort during the uprising. Architectural Significance: Archaeological remains only. * * * The Fort Saskatchewan N.W.M.P. post is located on the edge of the terrace along the southeast of the North Saskatchewan River. The site is on the grounds of the Fort Saskatchewan Correctional Institute. Modern structures, access roads and service utilities are present on the site of the archaeological remains. The land to the north and west has been landscape and cultivated; the land to the south and east supports other structures of the correctional institute. Historical Significance: 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 construct 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 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 to Chesterfield Inlet, N.W.T. In 1911 the Royal a North West Mounted Police transferred the property to the provincial government for the purposes of constructing a jail. Archeological Significance : 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, and therefore valuable, information. Structural remains of the palisade wall erected in 1875 provided otherwise unavailable information on site orientation, wall location, and the 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 post-dating 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 (button) and personal artifacts (pencil fragment and ink well). In comparison, the Fort Calgary N.W.M.P. site (a Provincial Historical 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 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 in sparse. There are a few descriptive notes, two or three historic photographs and one diagram, this last item produced 41 years after the fort was substantially altered for modification 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 pose a significant threat to the archaeological 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. * * * Draft Release October 6, 1982 The archaeological site of the original Fort Saskatchewan, the first fort built by the north West Mounted Police in the northern half of the province, is now a Provincial Historic Resource announced Mary J. LeMessurier, Minister of Culture. Constructed in the spring of 1875, Fort Saskatchewan served as the northern headquarters of the North West Mounted Police (NWMP). In 1885, following the Riel Rebellion, Fort Saskatchewan became the headquarters of the newly constituted 'G' Division of the NWMP but at the year end the headquarters were moved to Edmonton, where they remained for only a few months. In 1886, in preparation for the return of the troops to Fort Saskatchewan, the original buildings were demolished and new buildings constructed. These served until 1908. The site was later leveled to make room for a correctional institute and only a corner of the Fort grounds remains exposed. * * * FORT SASKATCHEWAN, N.W.M.P. - 1875 Twenty men of 'A' Troop, North West Mounted Police, under Sub-Inspector Severe Gagnon and Inspector W.D. Jarvis were at Edmonton during the winter of 1874-75. Accommodation was obtained from the Hudson's bay Company. Inspector Jarvis received instructions from Commissioner French to build a post on the south of the North Saskatchewan in the spring. Jarvis selected a location near the junction of the river and Sturgeon Creek, about twenty miles downriver from Edmonton, where he thought there was a better crossing. He saw it as a site for future settlement and a logical crossing for the expected railroad. Towards the end of April, 1875, Gagnon was sent to the site selected to build a corral for the police cattle which had been wintered at Victoria Settlement; and early in May, Inspector Jarvis brought the rest of the Troop from Edmonton, set up camp and began construction of the post. Squared logs were obtained from local contractors. According to Samuel B. Steele, the men did most of the building themselves, including splitting the shingles. The first buildings included a barracks for the men, quarters for the officers and stables for the horses. Guardroom and shops for the artisans were added later, and a stockade was erected in 1879. The troop at Fort Saskatchewan maintained outposts at Edmonton and Tail Creek until its numbers fell to such an extent that all men were needed to man the headquarters. During the year 1879, Inspector Jarvis traveled over 1,000 miles in attending to treaty payments in the area (Edmonton, Battle River, Victoria, Whitefish Lake and Lac la Biche). At the outbreak of the rebellion in 1885, the strength of the force at Fort Saskatchewan was nineteen men. Refugees came to the fort for protection and Inspector Griesbach, then in command, was responsible for the defense of both the police post and Edmonton. The situation was relieved with the arrival of the Alberta Field Force and the 65th Battalion. Fort Saskatchewan became the headquarters of 'G' Division and its facilities were expanded to take on additional duties. With the increasing number of settlers entering the area, several detachments had to be established. During the 1890s men from Fort Saskatchewan were stationed at Innisfail to the south, and north to Athabasca Landing and Lesser Slave Lake. Fort Saskatchewan was somewhat isolated from the mainstream of events and recommendations were made on numerous occasions, to move 'G' Division Headquarters to Edmonton. Pressures for this transfer increased after Alberta became a province and the Attorney-General (at Edmonton) became responsible for the enforcement of Criminal statutes. Arrangements were made for the provincial government to take over the Fort Saskatchewan post and convert it into a jail, and for the Royal North West Mounted Police to transfer its headquarters to Edmonton. The 'G' Division headquarters were moved to Edmonton and located in a temporary building lat in 1909; however, it was not until 1913 that facilities were available to accommodate the division. On May 18, 1913, the division was transferred to Edmonton, leaving a small detachment at Fort Saskatchewan. The following year March 9, the provincial government purchased the Fort Saskatchewan post and began converting it into a jail. Construction of Fort Saskatchewan began in April and May 1875. * * * Notes: No order placed on original title. Current legal descriptions are different. David Capelazo investigating. *   *    * HERITAGE SIGNIFICANCE
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.
*                      *                                *
RESOURCE             North West Mounted Police Post
ADDRESS                Fort Saskatchewan
BUILT                        1875
 
HERITAGE SIGNIFICANCE
 
In 1875, a contingent of North-West Mounted Police under inspector W.D. Jarvis established a post on the south bank of the North Saskatchewan River near the mouth of the Sturgeon, some 35 km downstream from Fort Edmonton, and named it Fort Saskatchewan.   Ironically, this was at the approximate site of the original Fort Edmonton, built in 1795.   It was chosen by Jarvis primarily because the Canadian Pacific Railway was then considering extending its line northwest from Brandon, Manitoba and proceeding through the Yellowhead Pass.   The site choosen by Jarvis was adjacent to the route surveyed for this purpose.   Had the CPR followed up on this route, rather than the more southerly route throough Kicking Horse Pass, Fort Saskatchewan might have emerged as the metropolis of Northern Alberta rather than Edmonton.
 
Work on the post began on April 26, 1875 under the direction of Sub-inspector Gagnon.   on May 5th the work party was joined by Jarvis and the remainder of "A" Division which had spent the previous winter in Fort Edmonton.   They camped near the construction site and stayed until the fort was completed the following autumn.   The police provided much of the labour, while most of the building material was supplied by James Christie.   A report described the stockade as of hewn pickets fitted close together, sunk five feet   ground and rising to ten.   Inside:
The prinicpal buildings ere built of squared pine covered with handmade shingles.   There were: a stable with large hayloft, a cook house, a guardroom and several shops, all of which were one storey high, built of logs and roofed with mud.   All the chimney's were of metal stovepipe.   The officer's and men's quarters occupied a space to the west side of the area.   The kitchen and icehouse were on the north side; the shops on the east, and the stable on the south.   The cattle corral stood outside to the south, near the stable.
 
A few years later, a bastion of squared timber was erected 16 feet high in the northwest corner.   At first, the post was called Sturgeon Creek Post, but it was soon renamed Fort Saskatchewan.   Apparently the Cree of the district called it Si-Ma-Gan-Is or "Soldier's House".
 
The NWMP post at Fort Saskaatchewan was soon surrounded by a number of settlers, mostly Metis or Francphone immigrants, who began to farm on river lots.   Before long, a community was begun.   The Fort served not only as a barracks, but also as a local jail and court house.   The most famous cases heard there concerned Swift Runner, a Cree from near Wakatinaw, convicted in 1879 of the cannibalism of his family, and that of Dan Williams, a black who waged war on the Hudson's Bay Company at Fort St. John but who was acquitted by Colonel Ian Richardson of attempted murder.   In 1885, the contingent of 20 to 30 men was heavily reinforced in case the Northwest Rebellions should spread. It was then decide that the old post was inadequate, and so it was replaced by a larger facility for "G" Division. G Division would remain headquartered at Fort Saskatchewan until 1911, when it was moved to Edmonton.
 
The historical significance of the site of the original Fort Saskatchewan lies in its representation of the arrival of Euro-Canadian law and judicial process to the region which would become northern Alberta.   In later years, the site was occupied by the Fort Saskatchewan Correctional Centre, thus continuing its role as an incarceration facility.   For years, it remained one of but two provincially operated jails in Alberta.   Unfortunately there are no significant extant resources at this site.   The proposed work includes reconstruction and marking of various historic features.
 
BUILDING/SITE ASSESSMENT
 
In 1875 the North West Mounted Police established their second post in Alberta on the banks of the North Saskachewan River.   In 1911 they transferred the property to the provincial government to construct a prison.   In addition to the construction activity on the original   site between 1875 and 1911, there has been extensive construction of roadways, buildings and underground utilities as the Fort Saskatchewan Correctional Institute grew and changed.
 
The provincial government gave the property to the City of Fort Saskatchewan, and in 1983 the Archaelogical Survey of Alberta performed a limited two-week investigation of the old post site.   In 1998, the significant area was expanded to include a protective buffer zone and then it was designated as a Provincial Historic Resource
 
Most of the former Correctional Institute buildings have been demolished, but two minor strucures still remain along with the Warden's Residence nearby which has been converted into a Tea House opertated by the City's Recreational Department.   The two buildings and their associated utility services are still located on the historic site.   The 1983 report states that despite the impact to the site since 1875, there are indications that there is a significant amount of intact remains still in the area.
The larger district around the post is slowly being converted into a community River's Edge Park with a variety of seasonal recreational functions.   Within the context of the park, there will be an historic corridor with the N.W.M.P. Post site on one end and the Court House Museum on the other.

Internal

Status: Status Date:
signed)

Designation Status: Designation Date:
Provincial Historic Resource
1985/01/16
Register: N/A
Record Information: Record Information Date:
T. Gilev 1999/10/22

Links

Internet:
Alberta Register of Historic Places: 4665-0049
Return to Search Results Printable Version



Freedom to Create. Spirit to Achieve.


Home    Contact Us    Login   Library Search

© 1995 - 2020 Government of Alberta    Copyright and Disclaimer    Privacy    Accessibility