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Powwow Country: Old Forts Trail, Southern Alberta


Windspeaker Staff







Old Forts Trail, Southern Alberta

Sections of the ancient trails that were travelled by the First Peoples of North America are still visible and preserved for enjoyment today. The Old Forts Trail has been maintained throughout Montana, Alberta and Saskatchewan, as they were last used. Those portions of the trail that still exist were extended from the width that was required by people travelling in single file, to the two pathways that allowed the Métis carts and wagons and those of the traders and police.

In Alberta, each of the forts along the Old Forts Trail share a role in the annual Calgary Stampede by telling the forts’ stories and creating awareness by participating in the parade. Historical structures on the trail include Fort Calgary and Fort Benton in Montana. Fort Assiniboine was located on the trail midway between Fort Benton and Fort Walsh and an important stopping point and supply destination for Métis Red River carts and other freight wagons. In southern Alberta, the trail’s importance as the highway to Fort Whoop-Up is highlighted as it was an important trading post, with Aboriginal trappers travelling its historic route, burdened with buffalo robes and pelts to exchange for other goods. Many preservation societies exist in the area of the Old Forts Trail, helping to keep the history alive and teaching the lessons learned to local residents, tourists, and the descendants of the First Nations who once travelled the dusty pathways.


Photo Caption:Visitors looking at the bison bone reference collection in the lab at the Bodo Archaeological Centre.

Photo Credit: Buffalo Adventures