Fort Vermilion is located southeast of High Level.
Alongside Fort Chipewyan, Fort Vermilion shares the honour of being
known as the oldest settlement in Alberta. The name Vermilion comes from
the red ochre deposits along the riverbanks in the area. Cree and Beaver
Aboriginal peoples were the first to inhabit the area which functioned
as a meeting place for northern peoples.
The original settlement was established in 1788, as a post for the
North West Company (NWC) on the banks of the Peace River, 5 miles
downstream from its present location. In 1821, the settlement was taken
over by the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) and about 10 years later, the
post was moved to its present location. The old Bay House was built near
the riverbank in 1906. The former home of the Chief Factor is the only
building left of the Hudson's Bay Complex. In 1907, the Fort Vermilion
Experimental Farm was established and moved to its current site in 1935.
Once known for its flour and lumber mills, the community is now known
for the Fort Vermilion Heritage Centre. There are over 25 historical
sites and buildings to view in Fort Vermilion including the Bay Factor's
House, the Cookhouse, and the St. Luke’s Anglican Church Cemetery that
dates back to 1877. The collections and exhibits include prehistoric
bison bones, First Nations heritage, fur trade and family history,
documentation of life along the Peace River, notes from the Dominion
Experimental Farm and Buttertown, as well as general community
information and natural history. Another exhibit is the Visitor Log
House, a hand-hewn log structure built circa 1923, which is now home to
the Visitors' Centre.