Fort McPherson National Historic Site of Canada
Fort McPherson, Northwest Territories
© Library and Archives Canada | Bibliothèque et Archives Canada, MIKAN 3327875.
Fort McPherson, Northwest Territories
Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
1903 to 1903
1848 to 1848
1860 to 1860
Event, Person, Organization:
Hudson’s Bay Company
Royal Northwest Mounted Police
Research Report Number:
Original Plaque: Northwest Territories
In 1840 John Bell of the Hudson's Bay Company built the first Fort McPherson four miles upriver from here. Moved to this site in 1848, it was for over fifty years the principal trading post in the Mackenzie Delta region and, after 1860 a centre of missionary activity. In 1903 Inspector Charles Constantine established the first R.N.W.M.P. post in the western Arctic here. In the winter of 1898-99 a number of overlanders tried to use Fort McPherson as a base to reach the Klondike.Approved Inscription: Northwest Territories
This hill called Chii tsal dik, with its exceptional views, has been part of traditional TeetBit Gwichin lands for many generations. In 1840, the Hudsons Bay Company established the first trading post north of the Arctic Circle six kilometres upriver from here, to trade meat and furs with the Gwich'in and Inuit. Moved to this location in 1848, Fort McPherson was the principal trading post in the Mackenzie Delta region for over 50 years. The settlement that grew around the fort became a centre of missionary activity after 1860, and the site of the Western Arctic's first North-West Mounted Police post in 1903.
Description of Historic Place
Fort McPherson National Historic Site of Canada is located in a hamlet at the centre of the Peel River / Mackenzie Delta region of the Northwest Territories, just off the Dempster Highway. The site consists notably of the remains of the Hudson’s Bay Company trading post as it was in the 19th and early 20th centuries and of the post of the Royal North-West Mounted Police as well as the existing Anglican and a Roman Catholic missions. Official recognition refers to the boundaries of the community of Fort McPherson as it was mapped in 1898.
Fort McPherson was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1969 because: it was for over fifty years the principal trading post in the MacKenzie Delta region and, after 1860 a centre of missionary activity; the hill with its spectacular views has been part of traditional Teetl'it Gwich'in lands for many generations; it was the place of the first Royal Northwest Mounted Police post in the Western arctic.
According to oral tradition, the Gwich'in ("people of the head waters") population has been present on the Mackenzie Delta for over 20,000 years, where they survived by hunting, fishing and trapping. In 1840, the Hudson's Bay Company established Fort McPherson, the first trading post north of the Arctic Circle, six kilometres upriver from traditional Teetl'it Gwich'in lands, and Chii tsal dik Hill, to trade meat and furs with the Gwich'in and Inuit. Fort McPherson was moved to its current location in 1848 and was the principal trading post in the Mackenzie Delta region for over 50 years. The settlement that grew around the fort became a centre of Roman Catholic and Anglican missionary activity after 1860, and the site of the Western Arctic's first North West Mounted Police post in 1903. By the 1930s much of the fort’s former importance had passed to newer settlements such as Aklavik. Fort McPherson is now the largest Gwich’in settlement in the Northwest Territories.
Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, June 1975 and December 2005.
Key elements contributing to the heritage value of this site include: its location on the Mackenzie Delta near the Peel River, on traditional Teetl’it Gwich’in lands; its semi-urban setting of the 1898 fort boundaries within the present-day town of Fort McPherson; the existing Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches dating from 1898; the siting, construction and L-shaped massing of the Roman Catholic Church, as well as any interior furnishings and finishings related to its role as a mission; the siting, construction and rectangular massing of the Anglican Church, as well as any interior furnishings and finishings related to its role as a mission; the vestiges of the Hudson’s Bay Company trading post; the remains of the Royal North West Mounted Police post in its siting, footprint and massing; the integrity of any surviving or as yet unidentified archaeological remains which may be found within the site in their original placement and extent; the spectacular views of Teetl’it Gwich’in lands from Chii tsal dik Hill; the surrounding viewscapes of the Mackenzie Delta and the Peel River.