Fort Edmonton is a large compact establishment
with good buildings, palisades, and bastions, pleasantly situated in
a deep valley. An extensive and profitable trade is carried on with the… tribes
of the plains – Blackfeet, Peigans, Assiniboines, and Crees…
Alexander Ross, fur trader
The Edmonton region that emerged after the
glaciers retreated was the ideal locale for a fur trade hub. Situated
along the North Saskatchewan River, one of the main waterways of the
trade, the area had ready access to the resource riches and transportation
routes of the Athabasca and Mackenzie watersheds. The parkland environment
not only offered a wealth of building material, it also sheltered an
abundance of beaver, the essential commodity of the trade, and bison,
the essential fuel of the fur trade brigades. The natural advantages
of the Edmonton region were not the only powerful draws for the fur
trade. For thousands of years, the area had been a meeting place for
First Nations and was the centre of a sophisticated trading network
that had existed prior to the arrival of Euro-Canadians.
fur trade post in the Edmonton area was established in 1795 near present-day
Fort Saskatchewan. Several posts were erected along the North Saskatchewan
River in the area over the next decade. Fort Edmonton would become
the most significant fur trade post west of Fort Garry (present-day
Winnipeg). The penetration of the fur trade into present-day Alberta
had profound implications for the economic and social lives of First
Nations communities and contributed to shifts in their territorial
boundaries. Prior to 1830, the Edmonton region was dominated by the
Blackfoot. After 1830, the Cree and Assiniboine had both established
themselves in the Fort Edmonton area. By the mid-nineteenth century,
Fort Edmonton had become an ethnically diverse commercial centre administered
by Euro-Canadians and Métis who traded with the First Nations communities
who gathered seasonally at the site.
Last reviewed/revised: May 7, 2012
Paul Kane’s Painting of Fort Edmonton, ca. 1850.
Photo: Provincial Archives of Alberta, A1685
Fort Edmonton Buildings.
Photo: Provincial Archives of Alberta, B6580
Indian Camp, St. Albert.
Photo: Missionary Oblates, Grandin Collection
at the Provincial Archives of Alberta, OB11021