Archaeological Site FfNm-1
South Branch House Provincial Historic Site
Links and documents
1786/01/01 to 1786/12/31
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The South Branch House Provincial Historic Site comprises a one hectare parcel of land on the right (east) bank of the South Saskatchewan River, approximately 30 kilometres south of the City of Prince Albert. The property features the archaeological remains of a late eighteenth-century Hudson’s Bay Company trading post.
The heritage value of the South Branch House Provincial Historic Site lies in its association with the Hudson’s Bay Company and its late-eighteenth century inland expansion. After 100 years of operating from the shores of Hudson Bay, competitive pressure from Montreal-based traders compelled the Company to construct inland posts to be nearer the First Nations that were supplying its furs. Initial expansion efforts focused on the main and north branches of the Saskatchewan River, with the first inland post built at Cumberland House in 1774. In 1786, the Company constructed South Branch House, its first post on the south branch of the Saskatchewan, a few kilometers upriver from two competitors’ posts built a year earlier.
South Branch House, located near a traditional First Nations river ford later known as “Gardepuy’s Crossing,” operated for six years, with its trade in bison products, used for provisioning company operations, at least as important as its fur trade. In 1794, a group of Gros Ventres, disgruntled with the Company for supplying firearms to their enemy, the Cree, attacked the poorly defended post. One company servant escaped. However, the post’s other occupants, including three Hudson’s Bay Company employees, five or six women, and an unspecified number of children were killed. The post was burned in the incident and was never rebuilt.
Heritage value also resides in the site’s association with two later-to-be-famous Hudson’s Bay Company employees. During its first season of operation, the post’s journal was kept by a young David Thompson who would later become one of North America’s foremost pioneering geographers. Another prominent explorer and cartographer, Peter Fidler, also performed clerical duties at the post for a time ca. 1789/90.
Province of Saskatchewan, Order in Council 870/86, August 21, 1986.
The heritage value of the South Branch House Provincial Historic Site resides in the following character-defining elements:
-elements associated with the Hudson’s Bay Company occupation, including artifacts, an identified cellar depression with associated chimney mound, and any yet-to-be discovered structural remains, such as cellars and rubbish pits, remains of the palisade and other construction features;
-the property’s siting in a grove of trees on the riverbank with an unobstructed view of the South Saskatchewan River.
Government of Saskatchewan
Parks Act, s. 7
1786/01/01 to 1794/12/31
1794/01/01 to 1794/12/31
Theme - Category and Type
- Developing Economies
- Trade and Commerce
Function - Category and Type
- Commerce / Commercial Services
- Trading Post
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Department of Culture Youth and Recreation
Heritage Resources Branch
1919 Saskatchewan Drive Regina, SK
File: GR 2249
Cross-Reference to Collection