Strolling through the river valley paths or driving over the
105th Street Bridge in the City of Edmonton will situate you in
the Rossdale Flats area. When traveling through the area of the
105th Street and River valley road intersection, you get the
sense of why this area was named Rossdale Flats. The plateau
area, in addition to an accessible waterway which is referred to
today as the North Saskatchewan River, is situated on top a
little river bank and is very flat. This area, which extends
several kilometers around, was ideal for Aboriginals and early
voyageurs. Looking to the south one sees an area that makes the
river accessible. Looking north you see a steep climb into a
downtown city core. The in-between area is filled with the
memories of a bustling community.
Rossdale Flats was a gathering place used for centuries in an
area located in the middle of what is now called the City of
Edmonton. There was an amazing diversity among the people of
this location: Blackfoot, Cree, Sarcee, Métis, French-Canadian,
Scottish, and English. Long ago, individuals and families from
all these groups resided here, often at the same time.
Traditionally, it was given the name Pehonan, which according to
the Cree language means Gathering Place.
The hub of activity is noted in Philip Coutu’s Castles to
Forts: A True History of Edmonton:
Situated on the old Indian trail called Wolf’s Track, was
long an ancient meeting place of Plains people – a place of
trade, celebration and ceremony. However, it was at the
later fur trade rendezvous that Europeans joined this
cultural mix. The arrival of spring brigade with its bounty
of European goods was the highlight of the trading season.
The riverbanks along the lower Rossdale Flats were lined
with people celebrating the return of the voyageurs and an
evening dance often followed. Dressed handsomely in their
finest clothing, the people of the fort, handsome voyageurs,
trading chiefs, warriors as well as Métis freeman and their
families attended this much anticipated event.1
Through Archeological finds, this place of gathering has a
history that is dated scientifically at over 8,000 years.
Aboriginal oral history indicates that this location was used
for a variety of purposes that included sacred ceremonies, an
ancient migration trail called Wolf Track, Treaty payments and
According to Blackfoot oral history, Wolf Tracks was a part
of a larger north-south migration route used by First Nations
prior to contact. This trail extended from Canada’s north to as
far south as Mexico, traveling though major areas including a
place that is now called Calgary and west to Morley and beyond.
Rossdale Flats was the site of early 19th century fur trading
posts Fort Augustus and Edmonton House. In 1825 and again in
1830, Rossdale Flats flooded, convincing Chief Factor John
Rowand to should move his post to higher ground. The new Fort
Edmonton was not completed until 1832. The new location was on
what would become the legislature Grounds in Edmonton.
as far back as 1989. As the community banded to together the
issue became increasingly contested. Most contested was the City
of Edmonton’s use of the land.
Currently, the road directly over top a part of the burial
ground has been closed. The City of Edmonton and community
stakeholders are gathering to plan a course of action for the
commemoration of the burial site.