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Fort Livingstone National Historic Site of Canada

Highway 661, Pelly, Saskatchewan, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1923/05/25

View of Fort Livingstone, showing its setting high on a hill surrounded by woods, 2005.; Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency.
General view
View of the HSMBC plaque and cairn.; Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency
HSMBC plaque and cairn
No Image

Other Name(s)

Fort Livingstone National Historic Site of Canada
Fort Livingstone
Fort Livingstone
Swan River Barracks
Caserne de la rivière Swan

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1874/01/01 to 1875/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2009/03/09

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.

Heritage Value

Fort Livingstone was designated a National Historic Site of Canada 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.

Character-Defining Elements

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.




Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Historic Sites and Monuments Act

Recognition Type

National Historic Site of Canada

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

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



Office or office building
Military Defence Installation

Architect / Designer

Department of Public Works



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Indigenous Affairs and Cultural Heritage Directorate Documentation Centre 3rd Floor, room 366 30 Victoria Street Gatineau, Québec J8X 0B3

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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