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Site Profile: Fort Macleod

View of Fort Macleod, inside the fort walls

In 1870 the Government of Canada purchased Rupert's Land from the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) and over the next three years much of this new acquisition had fallen into lawlessness and disorder primarily due to the encroachment of American whisky traders in the area. Fearful of heightened violence and wishing to protect Canadian sovereignty in the area in 1873 the federal government organized a paramilitary force to travel west and help restore and maintain order in the area. Called the North West Mounted Police, in July 1874 the new force began their trek west, arriving at Fort Whoop-Up three months later and establishing their first post on an island on the Oldman River, naming it Fort Macleod after the man that had led their journey, Colonel James F. Macleod.

The Force quickly outgrew its original post and, in 1884 a new, larger fort was constructed just west of the original fort to accommodate the Force's swelling ranks and avoid the seasonal flooding that ravaged the previous site. The arrival of the North West Mounted Police marked the end of the whisky trade in southern Alberta and Fort Macleod served as divisional headquarters for the North West Mounted Police until the early 1920s when headquarters for the division were moved to Lethbridge. Today visitors can tour both the reconstructed Fort and the adjacent Museum of the North West Mounted Police. In addition, one of the first North West Mounted Police riding demonstrations took place at Fort Macleod in 1876 and today visitors can relive this experience as the Musical Ride performs daily at the Fort during the summer months.

A view from the Look-out Tower at Fort MacLeod, AlbertaFort MacleodView of the exterior fort walls, Fort MacleodView of the Oldman River at Fort MacleodLiving room at Fort Macleod

More about the North West Mounted Police in Alberta can be found here: Courtesy of Legacy, Alberta's Cultural Heritage Magazine - 125 Years: The Prairie Legacy of the Mounted Police by Ken Tingley

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257 - Origin of Fort Macleod
Summary: This town was first established in 1874 as a post of NWMP - on an island in the Oldman River! What happened as the town grew?

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257 - Origin of Fort Macleod
Summary: This town was first established in 1874 as a post of NWMP - on an island in the Oldman River! What happened as the town grew?

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