Posted in Canada 150, Projects, Travel

Rocky Mountain House NHS

Canada 150 is winding down across this big fabulous nation of ours. In Ottawa, for a cool 5.6 Million, the rink and festivities have continued although they have cancelled many activities at New Year’s due to the polar vortex hovering over Canada right now.

I’ve been quite remiss as I had two more submissions for the Canada 150 series. Due to technical or submission issues they have sat on the back burner but it’s time to sort it out. With a bit of luck I might just make 20 posts about some of our national parks and historic sites.

So here comes Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site.

  • Photos by Bev and Text by Bernie

There is always that one person who travels so much that it makes the rest of her world envious. That’s a small part of the background story on this next guest blogger. 75% of Bev’s travel is international and her pictures and stories on Facebook keep us all entertained and enlightened as does her personality!

But this year she took a detour on a trip to British Columbia, because of that free Parks Canada pass, and ended up in Rocky Mountain House, Alberta. She said she’d always wondered what was there and decided that it was time to find out. Below is a slide show of her photos.

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The heritage value of Rocky Mountain House lies in its historical associations as illustrated by its setting and archaeological remains. Rocky Mountain House was established by the Northwest Company in 1799 on a site frequented by the Blackfoot people, and close to Acton House, established nearby by the Hudson’s Bay Company at the same time. It served initially as a post on the transcontinental route, then as a fur trade and provisioning post and boat-building operation, then as the focal point of the Hudson’s Bay Company’s strategy towards the American competitors on the Missouri River. Its occupation was not continuous during the fur trade, and posts were rebuilt and replaced over the years using at least four different sites (1799-1821, 1835-1861, 1868-1875 and the site of Acton House, 1799-1835, respectively). After 1875 there was no permanent occupation of the site.

The above info was sourced from the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada Commemorative Integrity Statement written in 1998. The following info was obtained from the Parks Canada site and flows nicely with Bev’s photos.

The site has a large interpretive element with a Blacksmith Station, demonstrations of women’s involvement in the Fur Trade highlighting beading, quill work, capote-making, finger weaving, leather work and other Indigenous crafts. There is the trading post gift shop full of these items as souvenirs. There are several kms of walking trails and there is also a chance to catch a glimpse of the small herd of Plains Bison in a paddock. To round out the experience there is bannock cooked over an open fire or the chance to check out York Boats or Red River Carts. These boats were built right here at Rocky Mountain House to make the long journey down river loaded with furs and goods destined for England. The Red River Carts became a major method of transportation especially for the Métis people.



National Historic Site

Old Settler ArtifactsAt Rocky Mountain House the forts are gone but the name remains. This is a story of trade, exploration, and competition, but above all it is a story of people.

A Brief History
In 1799 the North West and Hudson’s Bay companies set up rival posts at the end of the fur trade line on the North Saskatchewan River. Competition for trade was fierce at Rocky Mountain House, and during its 76-year history, nine different Aboriginal cultures came here to trade.

David Thompson
Explorer, fur trader, and mapmaker, David Thompson used the North West Company post as a base for finding a pass across the Rocky Mountains. Today, Parks Canada protects the archaeological remains of four trading posts while presenting the site’s history.



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