Fort Macleod National Historic Site of Canada
Fort MacLeod, Alberta
(© Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada.)
Haultain (2nd Ave.), Fort MacLeod, Alberta
Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
1874 to 1874
1883 to 1883
Event, Person, Organization:
James F. Macleod
North West Mounted Police
Research Report Number:
Existing plaque: Memorial Park - adjacent to the post office Haultain (2nd Ave.), Fort MacLeod, Alberta
In October 1874 a detachment of North-West Mounted Police under Assistant- Commissioner J. F. Macleod arrived here from Manitoba and began to build a post on an island two miles north-east of this site. The post, which served as headquarters of the force from 1876 to 1878 and as a divisional headquarters until 1922, was relocated on higher ground in 1883. By suppressing the whiskey trade in the area and impartially enforcing the law, the police won the trust of the powerful Blackfoot confederacy and prepared the way for the peaceful settlement of southern Alberta.
Description of Historic Place
Fort Macleod National Historic Site of Canada is located in what is now the Town of Fort Macleod, approximately 150 kilometres south-east of Calgary, Alberta. The site is situated at the western end of Macleod Island, overlooking the Oldman River. The site is partly covered by brush and by pasture and hay fields at its centre. Official recognition refers to the location of the first Fort Macleod at the time of designation surrounded by a 30-metre perimeter.
Fort Macleod was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1923 because: it was a station of much importance in the early history of the North West Mounted Police.
In 1874, the Assistant-Commissioner of the North West Mounted Police, James F. Macleod, arrived on Macleod Island with a detachment of 150 men and constructed the first Fort Macleod. Though the fort was relocated to higher ground in 1883, the original Fort Macleod was the first North West Mounted Police (N.W.M.P.) post in Southern Alberta, and served as N.W.M.P. headquarters between 1874 and 1878. The fort enabled the N.W.M.P. to institute and maintain the law, and to suppress the whiskey trade. This helped gain the trust of the Blackfoot Confederacy, contributing to the peaceful settlement of southern Alberta.
Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, May 1925, 1977, December 2007.
Key elements contributing to the heritage value of this site include: its location outside the Town of Fort Macleod in southern Alberta ; its agricultural setting on the western end of Macleod Island, overlooking the Oldman River; its low-lying composition, which led to the first fort’s relocation to higher ground; the integrity of surviving archaeological remains, features, and artifacts in their original placement and extent, including the ‘in situ’ vestiges, that date to the occupation of the fort between 1874 and its relocation in 1883; the viewscapes between the site and its surrounding landscape.