Fort Calgary National Historic Site of Canada

Calgary, Alberta
General view of Fort Calgary National Historic Site of Canada, 2004. (© Parks Canada Agency/ Agence Parcs Canada, 2004.)
General view
(© Parks Canada Agency/ Agence Parcs Canada, 2004.)
Address : 750 9th Ave. S.E., Inglewood, Calgary, Alberta

Recognition Statute: Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
Designation Date: 1925-05-15
  • 1875 to 1875 (Construction)
  • 1882 to 1882 (Significant)
  • 1888 to 1888 (Significant)

Event, Person, Organization:
  • Captain Éphrem A. Brisebois  (Person)
  • George Clift King  (Person)
  • North West Mounted Police  (Organization)
Other Name(s):
  • Fort Calgary  (Designation Name)
  • Fort Brisebois  (Other Name)
  • The Elbow  (Other Name)
  • Bow Fort  (Other Name)
Research Report Number: 1969-063, 2009-CED-SDC-10

Description of Historic Place

Fort Calgary National Historic Site of Canada is a square-shaped wooden fort situated on the west bank of the Elbow River at its junction with the Bow River. Located on the same site as the original fort, the present structure is a reconstruction on a 12-hectare (40-acre) park within the limits of Calgary, Alberta. Established in 1875 as Fort Brisebois by the North West Mounted Police (NWMP), the fort included men's quarters, a guard room, stables and storage facilities surrounded by a palisade of vertical logs. The setting is a flat parcel of land which slopes gently towards the river and which supports several large trees. Official recognition refers to the parcel of land that is approximately 12 hectares surrounding the location of Fort Calgary.

Heritage Value

Fort Calgary was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1925 because: it was the site of the arrival, in August, 1875, of ‘F’ troop of the North West Mounted Police, and the establishment of their post, within the limits of the present day city of Calgary.

Named by Assistant Commissioner James F. Macleod after his Scottish ancestral home, Fort Calgary was a base for patrols to native communities and ranches, and for police duties during the construction of the C.P.R. railway. Rebuilt as a district headquarters in 1882, by some seventy men of ‘F’ troop of the NWMP, the post was the focal point for the new settlement of Calgary. Fort Calgary formed part of a network of forts constructed across Canada that played an important role in the extension and enforcement of federal law in Canada during the latter part of the 19th century.

Fort Calgary served as a base for the NWMP forces. They were assigned the task of enforcing federal law in the district and suppressing the traffic of whiskey along the Bow River. Following the arrival of the NWMP contingent in April 1875 a strategic site overlooking the rivers was selected. Construction began in late summer and the fort was completed within approximately six weeks. The fort’s outer walls were constructed of 3.5 metre pine logs floated from upstream and set in trenches 1 metre deep.

Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, May 1925; October 1969.

Character-Defining Elements

The key elements that contribute to the heritage character of this site include: its location within the limits of Calgary; the setting on a flat grassed area within a treed park overlooking the junction of the Elbow River and the Bow River; the integrity of any surviving or as yet unidentified archaeological remains which may be found within the site, including features, artefacts and in situ vestiges belonging to the period of operation of Fort Calgary from 1875 onwards, in their original placement and extent; the possible remains of Contact Period Aboriginal campsites in the area immediately exterior to the palisade; the visual and landscape character within the park and around the fort, including the unimpeded viewscapes from the fort to the river.