THE BATTLE OF FRENCHMAN'S BUTTE
LA BATAILLE DE LA BUTTE-AUX-FRANÇAIS
Frenchman Butte National Historic Site of Canada
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
Frenchman Butte National Historic Site of Canada is a 7.2-hectare (18-acre) site located along Little Red Deer Creek in western Saskatchewan. The site marks the place where the Wood Cree and the Alberta Field Force waged a battle on May 28, 1885 as part of the larger North West Rebellion. Warrior, Field Force, and civilian pits are visible along the contours of the rolling landscape. The designation refers to the landscape and surviving evidence of the battle.
Frenchman Butte was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1929 to commemorate:
- its associations with the May 1885 engagement of strongly entrenched First Nations people led by Wandering Spirit and Canadian Troops led by General T.B. Strange, the operation of General Strange’s column during the North-West Rebellion/Resistance, and its connection to the North-West Rebellion/Resistance of 1885.
In 1885, tensions between the Canadian government, Métis and First Nations peoples over land and treaty issues erupted in a series of battles long referred to as the North-West Rebellion. On May 28, 1885, in one of the last armed encounters of this conflict, Cree warriors led by Wandering Spirit clashed here with Canadian troops under General Strange. Both sides withdrew after several hours; Strange's forces to await reinforcements, and the Cree to flee north to Loon Lake. For the Cree and other Prairie First Nations, 1885 was a turning point in the difficult transition to reserve life.
Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, March 1995; Commemorative Integrity Statement, March 1999; plaque text, December 2008.
Key elements that contribute to the heritage character of the site include:
- its location along Little Red Deer Creek in western Saskatchewan;
- the topography and vegetation associated with the battle, including the Little Red Deer Creek Valley, the nearby ridge, and the natural ground cover;
- the uncribbed boulder stone construction of the warrior and civilian pits;
- the footprints and façades of the warrior and civilian pits, and their placement and size in relation to one another and their immediate settings, and their setting along the coulee protected by a defensive mound of earth;
- the irregular footprints, shallow elevations, and crude construction of the Field Force pits;
- the placement and relative size of the Field Force rifle pits in relation to one another and their immediate settings, and their location along the contour of the crest of a hill;
- the integrity of any surviving or as yet unidentified archaeological remains associated with the battle, which may be found within the site in their original placement and extent, including the remains of warrior pits and the Fort Pitt/Green Lake Historic Trail;
- viewplanes relevant to the battle such as those from the warrior pits to the ridge on the opposite side of the Red Deer Creek Valley, those from the warrior pits to the Little Red Deer Creek Valley and the trail running through it, those to the north in the direction of evacuation pits located four miles from the main battlefield, and those within and among the warrior and civilian pits.
Government of Canada
Historic Sites and Monuments Act
National Historic Site of Canada
1885/05/28 to 1885/05/28
Theme - Category and Type
- Governing Canada
- Military and Defence
Function - Category and Type
- Battle Site
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec
Cross-Reference to Collection