Fort Athabasca River

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Fort Athabasca River (1778-1788) - An independent fur trading post and fort first established in 1778 by Peter Pond, an American explorer and fur trader. Located on the west bank of the Athabasca River at the junction with the Embarras River near Embarras Portage. Replaced by Fort Chipewyan in 1788. Also known as Peter Pond's Fort, Pond Fort, Athabasca Fort, and Fort Athabasca.


An independent fur trading post and fort first established by Peter Pond in 1778 on the Athabasca River at the junction with the Embarras River near Embarras Portage.

In 1778, Peter Pond left Sturgeon Fort to open direct trade with native peoples in the fur-rich Athabasca country. Pond established a trading post on the Athabasca River, about 40 miles from Athabasca lake, where he wintered in 1778–79. There he intercepted numbers of Crees and Chipewyans, who normally travelled the long & difficult route to the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) Prince of Wales Fort on Hudson Bay. These tribes were happy to see traders who would come to them and they discounted their furs to avoid the trek.

Pond said he made 140 packs of 90 pounds each that season but he left most of them behind, they would not all fit in his three canoes. He traveled east to Grand Portage, later the site of Grand Portage Post, and returned to Athabasca to bring out the remaining furs.

North West Company

With the formation of the North West Company in 1779 and Peter Pond's participation in that new company, Fort Athabasca River came under the purview of the North West Company. With the selection of Alexander Mackenzie to oversee operations in the Athabasca region, Mackenzie set out to reorganize the forts in the Athabasca area.

Mackenzie traveled to the Athabasca River Fort, arriving on 21 Oct 1787. He quickly determined that it should be replaced with a new fort on the lake where it would be better situated for everyone concerned. The new post was constructed and named Fort Chipewyan. Mackenzie occupied the new fort in December 1788 and this date is use here as the closure of the old fort.

Current Status


Location: Embarras Portage, Alberta, Canada. Map point is approximate and not accurate.

Maps & Images

Lat: 58.45 Long: -111.5

  • Multi Maps from ACME
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  • Maps from Google
  • Elevation: .....'

See Also:


  • Wade, Mark S., Mackenzie of Canada:The Life and Adventures of Alexander Mackenzie, Discoverer, William Blackwood & Sons Ltd., Edinburgh and London, 1927, Online, chapter II, page 27-31.
  • Voorhis, Ernest, comp., Historic Forts and Trading Posts of the French regime and of the English Fur Trading Companies, Dept.of the Interior, Ottawa, Pdf, Page 34.


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