Fort Rae (1852-1905, 1905-1925) - A Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) provisioning post, fur trading post and fort first established in 1852 at the North Arm of Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories. Relocated in 1905-1909 to the current community of Rae. Named after Scottish explorer John Rae. HBC records end in 1925. The second site was also the site of Fort Rae RCMP Post
History of Fort Rae
A Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) fur trading post and fort originally built in 1852 at Rae Point on the east side of the North Arm of Great Slave Lake, Northwest Territories, Canada. A North West Company trade post known as Mountain Island Post had been established nearby in 1787.
Fort Rae I (1852-1905)
Fort Rae was first established on a prominent peninsula on the north shore of the north arm of Great Slave Lake in 1852 as a wintering provision post for the Hudson's Bay Company. It became an important trading post for the Dogrib Dene peoples.
In 1882, Fort Rae was selected as meteorological observation station for the International Polar Year research. An observation station was established by Captain H.P. Dawson. The station was determined to be the closest HBC station to the magnetic North Pole.
A 1892 site inspection by Officer James McDougall listed the buildings at the fort.
A 1903-1904 measles epidemic reduced the population at the location by some 100 people who died as a result of the disease. Increasing competition from free traders and a lack of wood for fuel caused the fort to be moved to a new location. This move began in 1905 but was not completed until 1909 because the old fort had to be dismantled and transported to the new site, apparently one building at a time.
Fort Rae II (1905-1925)
The Free traders had expanded into the area at more convenient locations and the HBC was forced to adjust their operations. Free traders Ed Nagle and Jack Hislop opened a trading post closer to many of the Dene families where Marian Lake connects to Great Slave Lake. The HBC set up the new post next to the free traders.
As the community grew alongside the trading posts the fur trade diminished. The records of the HBC at the new site end in 1925 but there is some evidence that HBC operations continued (pictures above).
The RCMP also later established a post here before 1940.
Archeological investigations of the Fort Rae I site were conducted in 1966 by William Noble and in 2000 by Marc Stevenson. Because the buildings were relocated to the second site only foundations and artifacts remained. Nominated as a Territorial Historic Site.
The status of the Fort Rae II Site is unclear.