Fort Ethier (1885-1885) - A fort established in 1885 during the North West Rebellion by Captain Leander J. Ethier, 65th Battalion Mount Royal Rifles, Alberta Field Force, near present day Wetaskawin, Alberta, Canada. Named for Captain Ethier, commander of the post. Abandoned later in 1885.
Fort Ethier was one of three small forts quickly built during the short lived 1885 North West Rebellion (aka Riel Rebellion) to protect settlers and the Calgary to Edmonton Road.
The North West Rebellion was an uprising by some settlers, First Nations and Metis peoples against the Canadian Dominion Government that was accompanied by some acts of violence. Major General Thomas B. Strange in command of the Alberta Field Force established Fort Normandeau at Red Deer, Fort Ostell at Ponoka and Fort Ethier north of Wetaskiwin as a precautionary step to discourage local participation in the rebellion.
Fort Ethier was a palisaded defense with a small blockhouse built on the farm of Samuel Brigham Lucas alongside the bank of Bigstone Creek. The blockhouse itself was a two story affair with three loopholes on each side of the upper and lower levels and a single entrance on the lower level. The roof was built as a pyramid with a flag pole in the center. There was also a large storage building within the stockade. The post was garrisoned during May-June 1885 and then abandoned by the troops when the threat of conflict subsided. The First Nations peoples in the surrounding Peace Hills Agency remained largely peaceful during the rebellion.
The blockhouse still exists, having been restored several times. The upper story retains some original timbers while the lower level timbers have mostly been replaced. The loopholes are not evident in the lower level restoration. Soil indentations and mounds indicate where the palisade and other buildings were located. The blockhouse site is at the edge of a sharp drop-off that goes down to the creek.
The blockhouse site itself is a Provincial Historic Resource. The land surrounding the site and the access road are private property still in the hands of the Lucas family and now in use as an Alpaca farm.
Some artifacts and information at the Heritage Museum, 5007 50th Ave in Wetaskawin.
Visited: 13 Jul 2014