Community History The Fort Saskatchewan District entered history well over 200 years ago with its original industry of canoe building. Near the mouth of the Sturgeon River, there was an ideal location for raw materials, and the native people named that area "Birch Hills". It was there that Anthony Henday camped in the spring of 1755 to prepare for his trip back to Hudson Bay. Forty years later, the fur companies were building trading posts in the same area. In the summer of 1795 the North-West Company established Fort Augustus a few miles down the river from the present day City of Fort Saskatchewan. Later, in the same year, the Hudson's Bay Company built Edmonton House close by. Two other independent trading posts were also established, but they survived only for a short time.
Fort Saskatchewan was incorporated as a Village in 1899, and as a Town in 1904. On July 1, 1985 Fort Saskatchewan became a City. In 1872 Francois and Joseph Lamoureux arrived in the district and occupied land on the north side of the North Saskatchewan River immediately across from the present City of Fort Saskatchewan. After the North-West Mounted Police built their fort across the river in 1875, what we now call the Lamoureux district began to grow and develop. The Northwest Mounted Police made its incredible trek across the prairies in 1874. The main force established Fort MacLeod in the southern part of the province. However, it is questionable if they would have reached their objective had it not been for the small group which was detached at Roche Percee who followed the Carlton Trail to Edmonton. "A" Division relieved the main body of its sick men and horses, as well as of the bulk of its provisions and baggage, and they made the hazardous trip to Edmonton. It was an epic journey by any standards, and, towards the end of the trek, five miles a day was the most that they could make. However, they persevered and arrived in Edmonton in October 1874, remaining there for the winter. In the spring of 1875, they built the Fort on the Saskatchewan some 20 miles downstream. It was originally known as "Sturgeon Creek Post", but the
name was changed very shortly to "Fort Saskatchewan". A community began to develop adjacent to the fort. Thus, the present City of Fort Saskatchewan traces its history back to this NorthWest Mounted Police fort of 1875. During the Riel rebellion of 1885, the Fort was in danger of being wiped off the map, and it was only the presence of No.7 Company of the 65th Montreal Rifles that prevented this from happening. Following the rebellion, the strength of the North-West Mounted Police was increased, and, by the end of 1885, the Fort became the headquarters for "G" Division. It was not until 1913 that "G" division headquarters was transferred to the Province of Alberta, and the Provincial Jail was built in 1914. In 1905 the Canadian Northern Railway reached the Fort, and provided a great boost to the whole district. By 1911, the town boasted 49 businesses and an $8,000 opera house. Despite a number of grandiose schemes, the Fort settled down as a quiet country town until after the Second World War. In 1952 Sherritt Gordon Mines Limited established a multi-million dollar nickel refinery here, and over the succeeding years Fort Saskatchewan experienced a steady growth. Petrochemical Industries started to move into the area, attracted by the availability of land, easy transportation access, salt deposits, abundance of water, a skilled labour force, and an appealing community for their employees. Both light and heavy industries located in Fort Saskatchewan. Over 21 plants with 3,000 employees are now located in and around Fort Saskatchewan.
Today the City of Fort Saskatchewan can boast of more than its fair share of amenities in recreation, shopping facilities, cultural activities, churches, housing and a comparatively low tax rate.
Published on Nov 15, 2010