Fort Edmonton, a prairie institution and icon from 1795 to 1915, was not just a physical edifice and community-it was a touchstone of western Canadian commercial history, leading to the founding of a strong prosperous city. Established in the wilderness as an outpost and pioneer commercial venture, it became the headquarters for the fur trade for the entire Saskatchewan district, and a provisioning point for all western travelers and explorers. At the same time, as a white European institution established solely for commercial exploitation and imposed on the area’s First Nations, the Fort’s presence lead to social chaos, the loss of sovereignty and the ultimate marginalization of those people.
Over the years a wealth of written descriptions of the Fort was produced. A rich body of visual representation was also created. It is from the accumulation of all these documents that the fascinating story of Fort Edmonton is piece together and told here in all its glory.
By Brock Silversides