Steele Narrows National Historic Site of Canada

Loon Lake, Saskatchewan
View in detail of the HSMBC plaque © Parks Canada / Parcs Canada, 1989
HSMBC plaque
© Parks Canada / Parcs Canada, 1989
An example of the Province of Saskatchewan interpretive panels found at the site. © Trails of 1885 / Trails of 1885, 2009View in detail of the HSMBC plaque © Parks Canada / Parcs Canada, 1989View of the location of the HSMBC plaque © Parks Canada / Parcs Canada, 1989View of the location of the HSMBC plaque © Parks Canada / Parcs Canada, 1989
Address : Highway 699, Loon Lake, Saskatchewan

Recognition Statute: Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
Designation Date: 1950-05-31
Dates:
  • 1885 to 1885 (Significant)

Event, Person, Organization:
  • Battle of Frenchman Butte  (Event)
  • North West Rebellion  (Event)
  • Big Bear  (Person)
  • Little Poplar  (Person)
  • Inspector Sam Steele  (Person)
  • General Middleton  (Person)
Other Name(s):
  • Steele Narrows  (Designation Name)
  • Battle of Loon Lake  (Plaque name)
Research Report Number: 1998-057, 1999-012, 2011-SDC-011

Plaque(s)


Existing plaque: The HSMBC commemorative cairn is situated in Steele Narrows Provincial Park, on a hill on the west side of the narrows. Highway 699, Loon Lake, Saskatchewan

The last engagement of the North-West Rebellion was fought here on 3 June 1885, ending ten weeks of fighting between forces of the Canadian government and disaffected Native people. During the hostilities a cavalry troop led by Inspector Sam Steele of the Mounted Police overtook a party of Cree led by Wandering Spirit and Big Bear who had seized a number of Métis and Whites as hostages. After a brief exchange of gun-fire, in which at least one Indian was killed and two Mounties wounded, both groups withdrew. The hostages soon escaped and the Indians surrendered or left the country.

Description of Historic Place

Steele Narrows National Historic Site of Canada is located 10km west of the village of Loon Lake, Saskatchewan. The site is a flat, grassy landscape on the east and west sides of Steele Narrows, the channel connecting Makwa Lake to the north and Sanderson Bay in Upper Makwa Lake to the south. A bridge spans the narrows. Interpretive panels and white concrete markers relate the events and indicate their location. On a hill on the west side of the narrows is an HSMBC commemorative cairn. Official recognition refers to a circle with a 200 meter radius centered on the middle of the bridge crossing Steele Narrows encompassing the narrows and the land on either side of the bridge.

Heritage Value

Steele Narrows was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1950 because: it is the site of the last engagement of the North West Rebellion.

The heritage value of Steele Narrows National Historic Site of Canada lies in its association with the North West Rebellion. Following the Battle of Frenchman Butte on 28 May 1885, the First Nations forces led by Misto-ha-a-Musqua (Big Bear) retreated toward Loon Lake with hostages from Fort Pitt. On 3 June 1885, Big Bear and his band were overtaken by Major Steele and his Scouts who formed an elite section of the North-West Mounted Police. Steele attacked from the west side of the narrows, thereafter named Steele’s Narrow, and after a three hour exchange of fire the First Nations withdrew northward with their prisoners, eventually surrendering at Fort Carlton on July 2. The police retired a few miles west to await re-enforcements and medical aid for their wounded. This skirmish marked the last engagement of the North West Rebellion. The site highlights the key events of the confrontation.

Character-Defining Elements

Key features contributing to the heritage value of this site include: - its location associated with the last engagement of the 1885 North West Rebellion; - the HSMBC cairn which commemorates the national significance of the battle; - the integrity of any surviving or as yet unidentified archaeological remnants which may be found within the site in their original placement and extent; - the white concrete markers which denote significant events of the battle, located throughout the site.