Steele Narrows National Historic Site of Canada
Loon Lake, Saskatchewan
© Parks Canada / Parcs Canada, 1989
Steele Narrows Provincial Park, Loon Lake, Saskatchewan
Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
1885 to 1885
Event, Person, Organization:
Battle of Frenchman Butte
North West Rebellion
Inspector Sam Steele
Battle of Loon Lake
Research Report Number:
1998-057, 1999-012, 2011-SDC-011
Existing plaque: Steele Narrows Provincial Park, Loon Lake, Saskatchewan
On June 2nd, 1885, Big Bear's Indians, with hostages from Fort Pitt, retiring from the Battle of Frenchman Butte, were overtaken here by Inspector Sam Steele and a small detachment of North-West Mounted Police. After a three hour exchange of fire the Indians fled northward with their prisoners and the Police retired to seek help. Five days later General Middleton took up the chase but muskeg so impeded his forces that he reluctantly turned back. The prisoners later escaped. This was the last engagement of the North West Rebellion.
*Note: This designation has been identified for review. A review can be triggered for one of the following reasons - outdated language or terminology, absence of a significant layer of history, factual errors, controversial beliefs and behaviour, or significant new knowledge.
Description of Historic Place
Steele Narrows National Historic Site of Canada is located 10km west of the village of Loon Lake, Saskatchewan. The site is a flat, grassy landscape on the east and west sides of Steele Narrows, the channel connecting Makwa Lake to the north and Sanderson Bay in Upper Makwa Lake to the south. A bridge spans the narrows. Interpretive panels and white concrete markers relate the events and indicate their location. On a hill on the west side of the narrows is an HSMBC commemorative cairn. Official recognition refers to a circle with a 200 meter radius centered on the middle of the bridge crossing Steele Narrows encompassing the narrows and the land on either side of the bridge.
Steele Narrows was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1950. It is designated because: it is the site of the last engagement of the North West Rebellion.
The heritage value of Steele Narrows National Historic Site of Canada lies in its association with the North West Rebellion. Following the Battle of Frenchman Butte on 28 May 1885, the First Nations forces led by Misto-ha-a-Musqua (Big Bear) retreated toward Loon Lake with hostages from Fort Pitt. On 3 June 1885, Big Bear and his band were overtaken by Major Steele and his Scouts who formed an elite section of the North-West Mounted Police. Steele attacked from the west side of the narrows, thereafter named Steele’s Narrow, and after a three hour exchange of fire the First Nations withdrew northward with their prisoners, eventually surrendering at Fort Carlton on July 2. The police retired a few miles west to await re-enforcements and medical aid for their wounded. This skirmish marked the last engagement of the North West Rebellion. The site highlights the key events of the confrontation.
Key features contributing to the heritage value of this site include: - its location associated with the last engagement of the 1885 North West Rebellion; - the HSMBC cairn which commemorates the national significance of the battle; - the integrity of any surviving or as yet unidentified archaeological remnants which may be found within the site in their original placement and extent; - the white concrete markers which denote significant events of the battle, located throughout the site.