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Fort Espérance National Historic Site of Canada

Rocanville, Saskatchewan, S0A, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1944/05/24

General view of the plaque at Fort Espérance National Historic Site of Canada.; Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada.
General view
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Other Name(s)

Fort Espérance National Historic Site of Canada
Fort Espérance
Fort Espérance
Qu’Appelle Fort
Fort Qu'Appelle

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1785/01/01 to 1787/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2009/03/13

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Fort Espérance National Historic Site of Canada is an archaeological site that is believed to contain the remains of two late 18th- and early 19th-century fur trade forts, both known as Fort Espérance. It is located in the Qu’Appelle Valley between Rocanville and Spy Hill, Saskatchewan. Official recognition refers to the landscape containing the probable remains of Fort Espérance I along the south bank of the Qu’Appelle River, and those of Fort Espérance II on a nearby knoll.

Heritage Value

Fort Espérance was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1959 because:
- it was one of the earliest and most permanent of the North West Company’s posts in the Assiniboine basin;
- it was the main pemmican depot in the Company’s continental fur trade and provisioned brigades to the Churchill and Athabasca River regions.

The heritage value of the site lies in its historical associations with the North West Company as illustrated by its natural setting and archaeological remains. Robert Grant established Fort Espérance in 1785-87 as the chief fort of the North West Company in the Great Plains. It was later named after Alexis L’Espérance, a famous guide and canoeist. It was abandoned in 1810, then rebuilt on a nearby knoll in 1816 (Fort Espérance II), and replaced in 1819 by another North West Company post 22.5 kilometres (14 miles) to the east. From 1821 to 1824 it came under the control of the Hudson’s Bay Company. It ceased to exist in 1824.

Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada Minutes, 1969, 1972; Commemorative Integrity Statement, December 2000.

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements contributing to the heritage value of this site include:
- the archaeological remains, including remnants of both forts, remains of the life of the fur traders such as blacksmithing and pemmican provision activities, such as buffalo bones;
- the archaeological artefacts removed from the site of Fort Espérance I and held by Parks Canada Agency;
- the location on the Qu’Appelle River;
- the natural grasslands of the site;
- the siting of Fort Espérance I in the river valley;
- the siting of Fort Espérance II high on a knoll.




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)

1816/01/01 to 1816/01/01
1785/01/01 to 1824/01/01
1821/01/01 to 1824/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Trade and Commerce

Function - Category and Type




Commerce / Commercial Services
Trading Post

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Québec.

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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