Fort Livingstone National Historic Site of Canada
Swan River Barracks
Caserne de la rivière Swan
Links and documents
1874/01/01 to 1875/01/01
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
Fort Livingstone National Historic Site of Canada is an archaeological site that once housed the first North West Mounted Police barracks in the west. Located on an upland peninsula above the east bank of Snake Creek near its junction with the Swan River, it is approximately 16 kilometres north of the town of Pelly, Saskatchewan. The designation refers to the site and its archaeological remains.
Fort Livingstone was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1923 because:
- it was the first capital of the Northwest Territories, 1876-1877;
- it was the original headquarters and first post built specifically for the North West Mounted Police.
The heritage value of Fort Livingstone lies in its historical associations with the Government of Canada and the North West Mounted Police (NWMP) as illustrated by the setting of the fort and the remnants it contains describing life during NWMP occupation. Fort Livingstone was built in 1874-75 by the Department of Public Works, and was originally known as Swan River Barracks. In 1884, shortly after the territorial capital was removed in 1876, the fort was destroyed by prairie fire. The fort once housed 185 men and contained sufficient buildings to accommodate them in a remote location. The fort included Married Men’s Quarters, Men’s Quarters, Officers’ Quarters, a hospital and three unidentified buildings or structures of which remnants remain.
Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, June 1973; Commemorative Integrity Statement.
Key elements contributing to the heritage value of this site include:
- the setting of the fort, high on a granite hill beside Snake Creek surrounded by woods;
- viewscapes to the Swan River and its northernmost crossing point, to historic trails, along the Snake Creek and Swan River valleys;
- the natural vegetation of the area, particularly its grass, and groves of aspen and hawthorn;
- the evidence of the early telegraph passages;
- the footprint and profile of remnants of the fort and its outbuildings, largely the foundation and cellar remains;
- the evidence of the construction, materials, functional use and siting of the buildings;
- the evidence, mostly below ground, of life at the post, including those artefacts excavated from the site and stored by Parks Canada and the Pelly Museum.
Government of Canada
Historic Sites and Monuments Act
National Historic Site of Canada
1874/01/01 to 1884/01/01
Theme - Category and Type
- Governing Canada
- Government and Institutions
- Governing Canada
- Security and Law
Function - Category and Type
- Military Defence Installation
- Office or office building
Architect / Designer
Department of Public Works
Location of Supporting Documentation
National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec
Cross-Reference to Collection