The North West Trading Company established a trading post on the southwest corner of Lake Athabasca in 1788. This post, named Fort Chipewyan after the Chipewyan people who were first living there, is the oldest European settlement in all of Alberta. Its isolated location at the hub of the McKenzie River drainage system made it an ideal port for northern exploration as the fur trade expanded. After years of grappling, The Hudson’s Bay Company took control of Fort Chipewyan in 1821. This trading post’s stature within the fur trade began to decline with the introduction of steamboats in the 1880s.
This remote community is only accessible by plane or boat in the summer, however, there is a winter road available during the coldest months. There are less than 1,000 residents in Fort Chipewyan many of whom are members of the Mikisew Cree First Nation, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, or Fort Chipewyan Métis. Fort Chipewyan was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1930 and today is the gateway to Wood Buffalo National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I hope you enjoy this collection of historical photos from Fort Chipewyan, a vibrant northern community.
For similar photo collections please see my previous stories including, Vintage Photos of Trading Post from Across Alberta, Vintage Photos of Trapping from Around Alberta, a Curated Collection of Vintage Photographs from Fort Calgary, Historic Photos from Fort Edmonton, and Historic Photos from Fort MacLeod.
The photos above were collected from Archives Canada and the Provincial Archives of Alberta. If you’re interested, additional information can be found for each photograph on their websites. Stay tuned for additional posts featuring historical photos from across Alberta and Western Canada. We’d love to know what you think in the comment section below.