Fort Calgary (1875-1914) - A North West Mounted Police fort established in 1875 as Fort Briseboise at the junction of the Bow and Elbow Rivers in present day Calgary, Alberta. Renamed Fort Calgary after a Scottish word for clear running water. Abandoned and sold to the Grand Trunk Railroad in 1914. Also Known as Calgary Barracks.
History of Fort Calgary
Canada acquired the North West Territories in 1870 when the Hudson's Bay Company charter expired. A period of lawlessness ensued where American wolf hunters and whiskey traders moved into the new territories and conflicts with the local tribes erupted. The Cypress Hills Massacre in 1873 saw American wolf hunters kill innocent Assiniboine Indians and the Canadian government response was to form the North West Mounted Police (NWMP) to establish law and order in the territories (now Alberta and Saskatchewan).
The initial move by the NWMP into the territories took place in August 1874 with a column of 275 officers and men marching from Dufferin, Manitoba. Forts were established at Fort Calgary and Fort Macleod.
Fort Calgary was established as a vertical log stockade with the stockade forming the outer wall of most of the interior buildings. This crude construction resulted in a unsatisfactory post during the early years and by 1888 the stockade wall had been cut down and used as construction material for the growing community and two barracks were built. A fire in 1887 had destroyed one of the barracks and by 1888 a new barracks block was under construction and partially occupied. That barracks is represented by the reconstructed barracks on the site today. Other post buildings were built as standalone buildings and the post became known as Calgary Barracks.
Most of the men stationed at Calgary Barracks did not reside at Calgary but at some seven small detachments from Banff to Gleichen in long term assignments that made these detachments the police force of the community. The force also provided general patrols covering some 121,179 miles on horseback in a single year.
In 1904 the North West Mounted Police became the Royal North West Mounted Police (RNWMP). In 1906 a grand new set of officers quarters was built for Superintendent R. Burton Deane, known now as the Deane House and currently under restoration.
Calgary Barracks was abandoned and sold to the Grand Trunk Railway in 1914. All the buildings were torn down and the land leveled for the new train yard except for the Deane House which was relocated and slated for use by the railroad station master. The RNWMP moved into temporary quarters in the courthouse downtown.
Must See! Part of Fort Calgary National Historic Site at Calgary, Alberta. Restored barracks building with numerous displays and artifacts, attached visitor center and gift shop, theater with short introductory film. Explanatory signage inside the barracks offers insight into the NWMP years. Nearby Deane house is undergoing a rehabilitation that is slated to be complete in 2015.
Visited: 2 Jul 2014