Fort Walsh National Historic Site of Canada

Fort Walsh, Saskatchewan
View from the east-southeast, 1982. © Parks Canada Agency/Agence Parcs Canada, 1982.
General view of the place
© Parks Canada Agency/Agence Parcs Canada, 1982.
Commissioner's Residence, Fort Walsh, view of north (front) elevation, 1982. © Parks Canada Agency/Agence Parcs Canada, 1982.View from the east-southeast, 1982. © Parks Canada Agency/Agence Parcs Canada, 1982.View from the east-southeast, 1948. © Parks Canada Agency/Agence Parcs Canada, 1948.
Address : Fort Walsh, Saskatchewan

Recognition Statute: Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
Designation Date: 1924-06-04
  • 1875 to 1880 (Construction)
  • 1875 to 1883 (Significant)

Event, Person, Organization:
  • Battle of Little Big Horn  (Event)
  • Cypress Hills Massacre  (Event)
  • Lakota people  (Person)
  • Tantanka Iyotanka (Sitting Bull)  (Person)
  • James Morrow Walsh  (Person)
  • North West Mounted Police  (Organization)
Other Name(s):
  • Fort Walsh  (Designation Name)
Research Report Number: 1964-018
DFRP Number: 13567 00


Existing plaque:  Fort Walsh, Saskatchewan

In 1875 a detachment of North-West Mounted Police under Superintendent J.M. Walsh built a post here which served from 1878 to 1882 as the headquarters of the force. The men stationed here played a key role in implementing Canada's Indian policy and in supervising the Sioux who had fled to Canada with Sitting Bull after the battle of the Little Big Horn. Following the return of the Sioux to the United States and the settlement of the Canadian Indians on reserves, the fort's importance declined and in 1883 it was abandoned. From 1943 to 1968 the Royal Canadian Mounted Police used the site as a remount station. *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 A review can be triggered for one of the following reasons - outdated language or terminology, absence of a significant layer of history, factual errors, controversial beliefs and behaviour, or significant new knowledge.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

Fort Walsh National Historic Site of Canada is the site of an early North West Mounted Police post set among the rolling Cypress Hills in southern Saskatchewan. In the mid-twentieth century, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police constructed 10 log buildings on the site for its remount ranch. The siting and architecture of these buildings was intended to evoke the original nineteenth-century fort. The national historic site designation refers to the site and the archaeological remnants of the original Fort Walsh.

Heritage Value

Fort Walsh was declared a national historic site in 1924 because: the fort served from 1878-1882 as the headquarters of the North West Mounted Police; the fort played a key role in imposing Canadian law from 1875-1883, in implementing Canada’s Indian policy, and in supervising the Lakota who fled to Canada under Tantanka Iyotanka (Sitting Bull) after the Battle of Little Big Horn.

The heritage value of Fort Walsh National Historic Site lies in the historical associations as illustrated by the setting and archaeological evidence of North West Mounted Police presence and activities during the 1875-1883 period. Fort Walsh was constructed in 1875-80 under commander James Morrow Walsh using local resources, NWMP and Métis labour, was abandoned in 1883, scavenged for parts to build new posts nearby, and then burned in 1886. In the mid-twentieth century, the RCMP built a remount station on the site for breeding and raising horses and symbolizing the force’s bond to its history. Parks Canada now operates the post as a historic site open to the public.

Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, June 1992; Commemorative Integrity Statement.

Character-Defining Elements

Key features contributing to the heritage value of this site include:
the setting of the fort high on a hill amidst rolling hills with diverse natural vegetation (fescue grassland, shrubs and woodland) and wildlife (moose, deer and elk); the footprint and location of the original palisade as indicated by remains; archaeological remnants of 46 nineteenth-century buildings and structures inside the original palisade with their composition, materials, technology, function distribution and locations; all archaeological remains of 1875-1883 NWMP life, including those that define the original structures, other works, and trails including some 100,000 artifacts which have been removed from the site and placed in storage at Parks Canada; viewscapes to on-site remnants of fur trade life outside the palisade (some 20 have been identified), to the vestiges of historic trails, to the locations of former First Nations and Metis sites, to the townsite of Fort Walsh, to the hospital, to the site of Farwell and Solomon trading posts, to the remains of ranch sites, towards the location of the Cypress Hills Massacre.