Fort Chipewyan

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Fort Chipewyan (1788-1927) - A North West Company fur trading fort established in 1788 by fur trader Roderick Mackenzie, cousin of Alexander Mackenzie, near the present day town of Fort Chipewyan, Alberta, Canada. Relocated 1800. The Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) took over the post in 1821 and rebuilt it in 1872. Closed in 1927. Sometimes spelled as Fort Chippewyan.

Fort Chipewyan Gate circa 1900.
Colin Fraser, fur trader at Fort Chipewyan, sorts fox, beaver, mink & other precious furs circa 1890s.
Fort Chipewyan with Steamer "Grahame" in foreground circa 1900.

Fort Chipewyan #1

Fort Chipewyan #1 was established by Roderick Mackenzie as a North West Company fur trading fort at Old Fort Bay on Lake Athabasca in 1788. The establishment of this fort eliminated a long trek for the Chipewyan Indians who had been traveling each year to the HBC post at Fort Churchill to trade their furs. Three rivers meet at Fort Chipewyan: the Athabasca, the Rocher, and Quatre Fourches. This confluence made Fort Chipewyan a natural location for trade and exploration and the post prospered.

Fort Chipewyan #2

Fort Chipewyan #1 proved to be ice-locked longer in the spring than other locations and in 1798 site #1 was abandoned for site #2 at the present town of of Fort Chipewyan. Alexander Mackenzie used the post as a jumping-off point on 3 Jun 1789 for his 2990 mile round trip up what became the Mackenzie River and again in 1792, on his trip to the Pacific Ocean via the Peace River.

The XY Company established a trading post at Little Island in 1800. In 1802, Peter Fidler built Nottingham House, the first HBC post on English Island. In 1804, the XY Company and the NWC joined forces against the HBC. The HBC abandoned Nottingham House in 1808 but returned in 1815. John Clarke then established the HBC's Fort Wedderburn on Coal Island to challenge the NWC’s Fort Chipewyan.

With the merger of the NWC and the HBC in 1821, Fort Wedderburn was abandoned and Fort Chipewyan became the headquarters for the Athabasca district.

In 1869, the Dominion of Canada purchased the Hudson's Bay Company territories but the area continued to be dominated by the fur trade until after World War II.

Fort Chipewyan #3

The Hudson's Bay Company rebuilt and expanded Fort Chipewyan after 1870. In 1883, the traditional York boats were replaced by sternwheel steamers further opening up the western Canada. The fur trade declined during the 1950s but the Hudson's Bay Company maintained a retail store in the town of Fort Chipewyan until 1927.

Current Status

Archelogical remains only. The exterior of the Fort Chipewyan Bicentennial Museum at the town of Fort Chipewyan is an exact reconstruction of the Hudson’s Bay store of 1870. Located at 109 Mackenzie Ave.


Location: Fort Chipewyan, Alberta, Canada. Map point is approximate.

Maps & Images

Lat: 58.71181 Long: -111.14904

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