Fort Whoop Up National Historic Site

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2015-06-26 10:58:17

Fort Whoop-Up National Historic Site is a museum focussing on Fort Whoop-Up, most commonly known as “The Fort” and formerly called “Fort Hamilton.”

The fort was once a whiskey trading post near what is now Lethbridge, Alberta. It was established as a base for trade with Indians

The original site can be found between St. Mary's and Oldman Rivers. This site was destroyed by a fire and an exact replica was built in the Indian Battle Park at 3rd Avenue South and Scenic Drive in Lethbridge in 1967.

The Museum has events lined up for the entire year and in particular; the most enjoyable are the summer daily events in which the whole family could participate. These are Cannon Firing, Interpretive Wagon Rides, Pony Rides and Scoundrel Skits and Gunfights.

Further, every visit to the Site is enlivening because it gives a feel of travelling back in the 1800’s. The episode rooms are very much authentic and well-preserved. The electronic displays, historical sights and sounds all give the visitors the chance to view and relive history through simulated activities and reenactments. Aside from that, a short documentary is shown to explain the history of the site.

Since 1990, the Fort continues to attract visitors and tourists. Thus, the owners and keepers recognize the need to continuously update and preserve the historic site so that people who visit the place will have a better and improved understanding of how the fort’s history impacted the Albertan and Western Canadian life.

History

Fort Hamilton was one of the first and most infamous whiskey forts built by scoundrels seeking profit and adventure on Canadian soil.

It was established in 1869 as a base for trade with Indians. The Era was called Robe Trade where hides and buffalo robes were being traded for liquor. The operators were John J. Healy, his brother Thomas and Alfred B. Hamilton. It was later renamed as Fort Whoop-Up which became one of the biggest and most profitable of all the trading forts.

From the fort’s establishment until 1872, violence and disorder became prevalent. At the same time, the Blackfoot people felt and realized the bad effects of trading their buffaloes for liquor. Thus, in order to put a stop to these lawless conditions, the North West Mounted Police (NWMP) was formed in 1873 to ensure peace and order in Western Canada and the NWMP stayed in the area until 1892.

Departments and Collections

Fort Whoop-Up has four exhibits and these are as follows:

Crowshoe Gallery

This shows the history and evolution of Fort Whoop-up when it began as a ranch and later as a major fort in Belly River.

Thunderchief Gallery

The gallery presents artifact displays about the lives and rituals of the Niitsitapi or the Blackfoot Culture since they are the primary traders of Fort Whoop-Up. Many of the items came from the descendants of Thunder chief. He was a war chief who participated in Last Great Indian Battle in river valley.

Shockley Firearms Gallery

This collection shows the firearms used before, during and after the fur trade (robe trade) era.

Period Fort

There are 15 rooms with audio recordings of scoundrels which will give visitors the feel of what it would have been like living in the Fort during the 1800s.

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