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The Métis in Western Canada: O-Tee-Paym-Soo-Wuk

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The BeginningsThe People and Their CommunitiesCulture and Lifeways

Fort Edmonton with TeepeesThe City of Edmonton literally grew out of Fort Edmonton. After the Palliser and Hind expeditions’ reports, interest in the West increased both in Canada and Britain. Businessmen seeking opportunities began to travel to the North West Territories. The Canadian government offered various incentives to promote development, whether through colonization companies or industry.

One of the first movements toward a city life out of the fort was the establishment of a Methodist mission by George McDougall. In 1871, he claimed land for the mission and parsonage, and actually built the buildings. It is supposed that the claim was north of the fort because of where the McDougall church is. His son David took another claim, this one east of the HBC reserve line.

Others immediately followed him: including Colin Fraser, John Sinclair, Donald McDonald, James Rowland, William Rowland, Kenneth McDonald, James Kirkness, John Fraser, James Gullion and George Gullion. All were ex-HBC men and most were Métis. Donald Ross took a claim which became the Ross Estate. Malcolm Groat, an ex-HBC man, took up a claim west of the HBC Reserve. Beyond the Groat estate and the St. Albert road, John Norris and R. Logan, also ex-HBC men, put up a trading store.

The next section of land was filled in by miners from across the mountains, from the gold fields: George Gagnon, Edmund Juneau, Dan Noyes, and Pascal Morichal. Two more miners became farmers in the St. Albert area: Edmund Brosseau and Octave Majeau (known as Little Majeau).

Fort EdmontonGilbert Anderson and James Gibbons took land in Laurier Park. In the Mill Creek Valley, fronting the river, were Charles Gauthier, George Kipling, William Maver, and Joseph McDonald whose land was where the High Level Bridge crosses. Frank Oliver remarked that he had the experience of personally watching the settlement of Edmonton.

Visitors to the Territories always began their stay with a stop at the HBC post in the area. There they found most of the creature comforts to which they were accustomed, but which were not available across the plains. In conversation with fur trade officers, visitors would listen for information about business opportunities or new communities. In this way, around Fort Edmonton there grew a community not directly related to the Fort or to the fur trade. The residents began their own school by 1890. The community around Fort Edmonton had 700 residents by the time it became a town in 1892.

Parliament building and fort.The city boomed during the Yukon Gold Rush of 1897, as thousands of eager gold-hungry prospectors scrambled for the North. Some sought to travel north via the "All-Canadian Route" and stopped in Edmonton for supplies. Many travelling this route never came anywhere near the Klondike, but began communities in the Peace River area instead. Others decided to settle in Edmonton. By 1904, the settlement had 9,000 permanent residents and was incorporated as a city. The city grew in importance and the fur trade slowed to a trickle, and eventually the fort became less important.

1910 Jasper AvenueAs the city grew, many questioned what should be done with the fort. For some in the community, it merely represented the old order that had been superseded by the city and province. However, there is evidence of some discord about dismantling the Fort and when the fort was actually removed in 1911, many lamented the end of an era. The C&E Railway had arrived in Strathcona in 1891. The Canadian Pacific and Canadian Northern Railways had arrived by 1911. In 1912, Edmonton on the north side of the river and the City of Strathcona on the south amalgamated with a combined population over 53,000. The High Level Bridge was completed in 1913, creating another link between the north and south sides of Edmonton. In 1905, Edmonton’s city centre consisted of western wood frame storefronts and strolling horse and buggies. In 1912, Edmonton’s mayor, George Armstrong ordered a master plan for the city from an American firm. The plan included a proposal for a civic square. In answer, the elegant Hotel Macdonald was completed in 1915, by which time the population had soared to 72,000.

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Liens Rapides

Fort Chipewyan and Fort Vermilion

Fort Edmonton and Fort Augustus

Fort George and Buckingham House

Victoria Settlement



St. Albert

Jasper House

Lesser Slave Lake

Buffalo Lake and Tail Creek

Red Deer Forks

South Branch Communities

St. Paul de Métis

Lac La Biche

Lac Ste. Anne

Whitefish Lake

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