Vintage Photos of Trading Posts from Across Alberta

Canada’s western frontier was developed on the back of the fur trade. As an extremely competitive business, the fur trade thrived for nearly 250 years as hunters and trappers attempted to satisfy Europe’s demand for felt. At the centre of the business model were trading posts, which acted as intermediaries between the hunters and trappers and European businesses.

Trading Posts
Old Hudson’s Bay Company Trading post at Calgary Exhibition and Stampede grounds, Alberta, 1912

Dependent on their location and role within the fur trade, posts were of varying size and stocked different goods that were available for trade. Each individual post had its own structured social hierarchy where Chief Factors were stationed at a post in command of an entire district whereas principal posts each had Chief Traders in charge. Both roles shared in the profits of the trade and were considered ‘bourgeois’ or middle-to-upper class. Clerks were responsible for bookkeeping and correspondence at each of the posts. Below the officers where the skilled labourers, such as blacksmiths, boatwrights, carpenters, hunters, steersmen, guides, and interpreters. Each of the previous roles were staffed in relation to the needs of the trading post. As you’ll see in this collection of historical photos, the trading posts are all unique in building design and style.

Trading Posts
Tom Wilson’s trading post at Kootenay Plains, Alberta, 1903-1911
Trading Posts
Trading post on Upper Peace River, Alberta, 1899
Trading Posts
Bain’s Trading Post, later Bew’s Trading Post, High River area, Alberta, 1960
Trading Posts
Fletcher Bredin’s shack and trading post, Buffalo Lake, Alberta, 1895
Trading Posts
Revillon Freres trading post, Lesser Slave Lake, Alberta, 1903-1906
Destrube trading post, Rife, Alberta, 1920
Trading post, Stand Off, Alberta, 1886
Group outside Norman Luxton’s shop, “Sign of the Goat”. In later years, known as Banff Indian Trading Post. Man feeding bear cub, on left, Banff, Alberta, 1911
Hotel and trading post at Saskatchewan River Crossing, Alberta, 1944
Hudson’s Bay company trading post, Whitefish Lake, Alberta, 1950
Morley Trading Post, Morley, Alberta, 1940s
Interior of South Fork trading post, Pekisko, Alberta, 1895-1905
South Fork trading post, Pekisko, Alberta, 1915
Hudson’s Bay Company trading post west of Saskatoon Lake, Alberta, 1915
Exterior of the Hudson’s Bay Company trading post in Fort Vermilion, Alberta, 1922. Object #A6921
View of Hay Lake Sheridan Lawrence Trading Post made up of several wooden buildings, n.d. Object #A2624
View of Athabasca, Alberta showing the Old Trading Post, Liquor Store, F. R. Falconer Hardware, Grocery and Clark’s General Store, 1951. Object #A8728
Exterior of Ray La Marche’s Clear Hills Trading Post, 1921. Object #A6342
View of unidentified men with dog teams outside the trading post in Fort McMurray, Alberta, 1911. Object #A7385
Indian Art Centre and Trading Post, Banff, AB, 1953. Object #A9415
Exterior of the Hudson’s Bay Company Trading Post located in Le Goff, Alberta, 1929. Object #A6497
Exterior of the Hudson’s Bay Company Trading Post in Sturgeon Lake, Alberta, 1934. Object #A7137
Settlement and Trading Post, Pelican Rapids, Athabasca River, Alberta, 1912. Object #A1938

For similar photo collections please see my previous stories including, 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.

Exterior of the Trading Post at Hines Creek, Alberta, 1934. Object #A6345

The photos above were collected from the Glenbow Archives and the Provincial Archives of Alberta. If you’re interested, additional information can be found for each photograph on the Glenbow website by searching the identification number that is printed on the photo. There is also the option to purchase a high resolution copy. If you search the object number that can be found in the photo captions, you will find additional information about the photographs on the Provincial Archives website. Stay tuned for additional posts featuring historical photos from across Alberta. We’d love to know what you think in the comment section below.

About Tyler Dixon 217 Articles
Tyler is originally from Saskatchewan, and yes he cheers for the Roughriders, but don’t hold that against him as Calgary has been his home for the past eight years. He is a teacher working at a wilderness- based treatment program for youth working to overcome addiction. Tyler is also a volunteer with the GOT Parks initiative, which aims at reconnecting Canada’s youth with our national, provincial, and territorial parks. During his time away from work, Tyler enjoys outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking, and snowboarding, team sports, travelling, photography, spending time with good friends, and being at home with his wife and German Shepherd, Rome.