Jasper House National Historic Site of Canada

Jasper National Park of Canada, Alberta
General view showing the site’s geographic location at the nexus of several mountain ranges near several mountain passes. © Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, n.d.
General view
© Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, n.d.
General view showing the site’s geographic location at the nexus of several mountain ranges near several mountain passes. © Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, n.d.General view showing the open nature of the site which both delineates its extent and provides visual access from the roadbeds of the Canadian National Railway mainline. © Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, n.d.Aerial view of the Jasper House National Historic Site of Canada. © Parks Canada Agency/Agence Parcs Canada, n.d.
Address : Highway 16, Roadside pullout 31 km east of Jasper, Jasper National Park of Canada, Alberta

Recognition Statute: Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
Designation Date: 1924-06-04
Dates:
  • 1830 to 1830 (Construction)
  • 1830 to 1857 (Significant)

Event, Person, Organization:
  • Hudson's Bay Company  (Organization)
Other Name(s):
  • Jasper House  (Designation Name)
Research Report Number: 1991-16, 2004-052
DFRP Number: 15412 00

Plaque(s)


Existing plaque:  Highway 16, Roadside pullout 31 km east of Jasper, Alberta

In 1813 the North West Company built Rocky Mountain House on Brulé Lake as a provision depot for brigades crossing the Athabasca Pass to the Pacific. When Jasper Hawse took command of the post in 1817 it became known as «Jasper's House» to avoid confusion with Rocky Mountain House on the Saskatchewan. The Hudson's Bay Company moved Jasper House up river to this site in 1829, but by mid-centruy decreasing traffic over the pass sent the post into decline. When Paul Kane was here in 1846 this was a remote outpost commanded by Colin Fraser, George Simpson's former paper. A half-century later Jasper House was finally closed.

Description of Historic Place

Jasper House National Historic Site of Canada is a forest clearing extending 110 metres along the Athabasca River to a depth of 150 metres back from its banks, containing the remains of at least three buildings from a former fur trade post, an associated cemetery, two historic trails, and other archaeological remains. It is located on the west bank of the upper Athabasca River, 1.4 kilometres north of Jasper Lake, on a channelized alluvial fan that has, in part, acted as a dam. The official recognition refers to the landscape with its associated remains.

Heritage Value

Jasper House was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1924 because for half a century: it was a main support of the trade route across the mountains, and it was an important point for all persons journeying through the Yellowhead and Athabasca passes.

The heritage value of Jasper House lies in its historical associations with the fur trade routes across the Rocky Mountains as illustrated by its location, setting and remnants of the associated community. This is the second (1830-1857) site of Jasper House, a post established by the Hudson's Bay Company on the eastern Pacific Slope in the early 19th century. It was established as a staging post for brigades travelling to the company's Columbia District trading posts through the Athabasca Pass, and for a short time served as the connection and supply point between east and west. It was a major destination for travellers using the Athabasca and the Yellowhead passes and the First Nations route through the Smoky River Pass.

Sources : Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, May 1927; Commemorative Integrity Statement, January 2002.

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements contributing to the heritage value of this site include: the site's geographic location at the nexus of several mountain ranges near several mountain passes; its natural setting on a relatively flat, fertile clearing formed by an alluvial fan in the Athabasca River, surrounded by mountains; archaeological evidence of three fur trade post buildings in their locations, footprints, surviving materials, and archaeological remains; the associated cemetery in its location and extent; evidence of the two historic trails in their cleared surfaces and routes; the natural vegetation on the site (grassy meadows); the open nature of the site which both delineates its extent and provides visual access from the roadbeds of the Canadian National Railway mainline, 500 metres west of the site, and Highway 16, 500 metres east across the Athabasca River; viewscapes to surrounding mountains (the De Smet Range to the southwest, Roch Ronde and Bosche Ranges to the northwest, and the Roche Miette and Miette Range to the east), to historic trails through the Yellowhead Pass to the northwest, and the Athabasca Pass to the southeast, to the path of the historic First Nations route through the Snake Indian Pass into the Upper Smoky River drainage basin, then to the Fraser River, and up the Athabasca River to the mouth of the Rocky River.