Fort Augustus/Edmonton House Archaeological Site

Lamoureux Drive, Fort Saskatchewan

This area, where the traders built the first Fort Edmonton/Augustus (1795-1801), has a rich and varied history. As you drive down the road along the stretch of river between the Highway 15 bridge crossing and the Sturgeon River, look at the layout of the fields and roads relative to the river. Notice that the fields all run to the edge of the river and are not oriented to the current land grid survey system. This is the old river lot system, established in various parts of Alberta (St. Albert, Victoria, Fort Vermilion) during the 19th century. Each land owner had access to the river, which was the focal point of transportation, and the fertile land further back from it.

You can see from some of the names of the owners on the river lot map, that French Canadians settled along the flats during the 1870s. The Lamoureux brothers may have first claimed some of the river flats in 1873. If you look on a recent county map of the area, their descendants still own some parcels along the north bank of the river. Jean d’Artigue, one of the original members of the NWMP, owned the lot that Theophile Lamoureux later claimed.

At river lot number 8, you will find a National Historic Sites cairn on the south side of the road. The cairn does not mark the location of any particular fort. According to the fur trade documents, the Hudson’s Bay Company, North West Company, XY Company, Ogilvy and Company, the “Grants” and “Francois Beaubien” all built posts somewhere in this vicinity during the late 18th century. Some of the fur trade sites that were not cultivated are often quite visible on the ground surface. You can still see large depressions of building cellars, large mounds of stone which mark collapsed fireplaces of buildings and, sometimes, linear depressions that mark footer trenches or palisade lines.

There is still some doubt as to which of the different localities in the field below you belongs to which particular fur trade enterprise. Archaeologists believe that the fort sites are scattered along a two and one half mile stretch of the North Saskatchewan River, west of the Sturgeon River. In any case, these river lots were inhabited throughout the 19th century by settlers, who built log structures similar to those of the fur traders. Although there are subtle differences in construction between these later buildings and those of the early fur trade forts, archaeologists have not thoroughly excavated the sites to recover enough information to sort them out chronologically. The early posts were surrounded by palisades The buildings were made using a post-in-ground log construction method as opposed to a post-on-sill method used to construct later log buildings in Alberta.

Comments

Juliette Champagne - 04 Nov 2015

As usual, credit is not given to the North-West Company which established the first fur trade site here. The Hudson's Bay Company followed the next year. No doubt so did all of the other traders. There is a National Historic Sites cairn much closer to the Sturgeon River which dates from 1925. This should be mentioned, it is worth the viewing and I don't think it is lot 8. Also should be mentioned is the trail head of the Athabasca Landing Road, and Sturgeon County has put up fine signage about it.

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Murray D. - 15 Mar 2018

I think the First site of Fort Edmonton( and Fort Augustus) should be fully investigated. After all, some of Fort Edmonton #2 was looked at on the Epcor site in the City. The very beginning of our City should be known as a first chapter , rather than be partially closed one!

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Era: Pre-contact & Fur Trade
Themes: Trade & Industry
Cultural Groups:
Area: Edmonton Region

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