Victoria District National Historic Site of Canada

Pakan, Alberta
McGillivray House at the Victoria District, 2000. © Agence Parcs Canada/ Parks Canada Agency, Lynda Villeneuve, 2000.
General view
© Agence Parcs Canada/ Parks Canada Agency, Lynda Villeneuve, 2000.
Old Cybuliak Property at the Victoria District, 2000. © Agence Parcs Canada/ Parks Canada Agency, Lynda Villeneuve, 2000.Methodist Church at the Victoria District, 2000. © Agence Parcs Canada/ Parks Canada Agency, Lynda Villeneuve, 2000.McGillivray House at the Victoria District, 2000. © Agence Parcs Canada/ Parks Canada Agency, Lynda Villeneuve, 2000.
Address : Junction of Highway 855 and North side of North Saskatchewan River, Pakan, Alberta

Recognition Statute: Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
Designation Date: 2001-10-17
Dates:
  • 1863 to 2000 (Construction)
  • 1863 to 1863 (Significant)
  • 1864 to 1864 (Significant)
  • 1899 to 1899 (Significant)

Event, Person, Organization:
  • George McDougall (Methodist missionary)  (Person)
  • Metis  (Person)
  • Ukrainians  (Person)
  • Fort Victoria (Hudson's Bay post)  (Organization)
Other Name(s):
  • Victoria District  (Designation Name)
  • Victoria Settlement  (Other Name)
  • Pakan  (Other Name)
Research Report Number: 2000-051, 2001-002, 2005-048, 2005-125, 2010-SDC-CED-004

Plaque(s)


Existing plaque:  Junction of Highway 855 and North side of North Saskatchewan River, Alberta

Lying along the North Saskatchewan River, this historic district illustrates several facets of the settlement of the West. At this ancient Aboriginal meeting place, a Methodist Mission was founded in 1863. It was soon joined by a Hudsons Bay Company trading post. These formed the nucleus for Metis and European, particularly Ukrainian, agricultural communities, characterized respectively by the use of river and square lots. The Victoria countryside still evokes these successive chapters in the history of Prairie settlement.

Description of Historic Place

Victoria District National Historic Site of Canada is a large, rural cultural landscape in Alberta, northeast of Edmonton. It is characterized by farmlands organized in long narrow river lots, running back from the North Saskatchewan River for about 12 km of its length, as well as others organized in 800 square meters sections. These areas, including the Lobstick Settlement to the west, the Victoria Settlement (renamed ''Pakan'') to the east, and an old Ukrainian settlement north of Victoria Settlement, contain farmsteads dotted through the landscapes, along the old Victoria Trail, as well as historic buildings clustered at the former site of McDougall's Mission and at the old Ukrainian settlement. The designation refers to the land and buildings within the site boundaries.

Heritage Value

Victoria District was designated a national historic site because its cultural landscape, through highly visible and intact physical attributes, represents an exceptional illustration in one concentrated area of major themes in Prairie settlement including the development of the fur trade, the establishment of the Métis river lot system, the arrival of missions, Prairie agricultural development and the establishment of eastern European immigrants at the beginning of the 20th-century.

Its heritage values resides in the topography and settlement forms, including land-usage patterns and architecture, that speak to the history of settlement in this area. It was the district's strategic location as a stop on Cree and Stony First Nations' migration routes that first led non-Aboriginal settlers under George McDougall to establish a Methodist Mission in 1863. Métis began establishing river-lot farms in 1865, with Ukrainian, British, Canadian and American settlers engaging in more intensive farming organized in the Township survey system from the early years of the twentieth century.

Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, December 2000, June 2003.

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements of the site include:
the topography, defined by the North Saskatchewan River valley; the discernible route of the Victoria Trail with access paths to the river; archaeological vestiges from Aboriginal land-usage, particularly along the river; the long, narrow river lots, separated by rows of deciduous trees, and extending about 12 km along the river's
shoreline; surviving homes illustrating Métis construction techniques using local poplar and spruce logs or squared timbers; the riverside locations of the former McDougall Mission and Hudson's Bay Company post; evidence of the former ferry site; the 1906 Methodist church in its location, form and materials; the Hudson's Bay Company clerk's quarters in its massing and materials; surviving elements of the Ukrainian settlement patterns north of Victoria with farmsteads lining the road; Ukrainian-built farmsteads with small, south-facing, whitewashed rectangular houses of log construction, set
among farm buildings and groves of trees; the old Ukrainian schoolhouse in its location, form and materials; cemeteries with their landscaping elements and grave markers.