Mission (situated 15 kilometre south from present-day Smoky Lake in central
Alberta) began in an area where a small population of Aboriginal people
lived. The Hudson's Bay
Company (HBC) joined the community in 1864 and people venturing west from Red River
found a place to homestead. By the turn of the 20th century, the site was a thriving community of
Métis, Aboriginal people and immigrants.
With the passage of time, farming increased and to meet the demand the
HBC opened a grist mill in 1873. Local dairy
operations replaced the mill in the late 1880s and a general store opened, operated by a free trader rather than the
A telegraph office opened in 1886 and the
community soon had postal services, although the mail-run was only once
every two weeks. With the arrival of the post office the community was
renamed Pakan to honour the Cree chief known as Pakan and to avoid being
confused with Victoria in British Columbia.
In 1897 the HBC abandoned Fort Victoria and the number
of European immigrants, particularly from Ukraine, increased. In
1902 more than 100 Ukrainian families immigrated to the area and by 1906
that number had risen to 250.
Early Ukrainian Settlement, part 3:
Dominion Land Survey, Part 2: Challenges on the Prairie
Despite the population boom,
declined rapidly in the 1920s and by 1921 it had been removed from the mission list.
The decline was mostly due to the arrival of the
railroad in the region, which prompted and eased the transfer of businesses
and people to nearby Smoky Lake.