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Alberta Online Encyclopedia

No. 258: Old Bay House in Fort Vermilion

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Fort Vermillion has a long history in Alberta's north.

It was first established during the fur trade, in 1788, but then was moved to a different location by the Hudson's Bay Company in 1831.

And according to historian Dorothy Field, it was still many years after that before the Chief Factor of the Mackenzie District got a proper house.

The old Bay House is near Fort Vermilion. It was built in 1906 out of sawn lumber, and it was one of the first houses to be built of that material that far north.

The house is very close to the riverbank. It was originally part of a complex of buildings, which were a supply depot for the Hudson's Bay Company. They were in charge of providing provisions and collecting together the furs that had been purchased for shipping south and east.

The Chief Factor was in charge of organizing the operations for the company, allocating manpower and setting the prices for furs.

After a hard day at work, he enjoyed sitting in his new home, with its view of the river.

The house is a one and a half storey building. Its got a gable roof and a veranda around one of the wings of the house. And it's interesting in that the design of the veranda is very similar to that of the very much larger Chief Factor's house which is replicated in Fort Edmonton Park.

The Old Bay House was designated a provincial historic resource in 1979, and in 1988 was purchased by the Friends of the Old Bay House Society.

It is the only building left of the Hudson's Bay complex near Fort Vermilion, and one of the very few left in northern Alberta.

On the Heritage Trail,

I'm Cheryl Croucher.

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