McLeod Lake Post
McLeod's Lake Post
Fort McLeod Historic Park
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
Fort McLeod Historic Park is the location of a former fur trading post located west of Highway 97 near the community of McLeod Lake in north central British Columbia. Situated in a clearing at the north end of McLeod Lake near the Upper Pack River, adjacent to the old Tsek'ehne village, the post consists of four small whitewashed log and wood-frame buildings (a main house, a warehouse, a workshop and an icehouse) and the remains of site features such as a saw pit, boat runs and fire pits. The former locations of additional site features including a fur farm, fences, gardens, boardwalks and flagpole have also been identified through historical and archaeological research. Fort McLeod was designated a National Historic Site in 1953 and designated by the Province of BC in 1999.
Fort McLeod Historic Park is valued as the oldest continuously-occupied Euro-Canadian site in British Columbia, as an important early centre of interaction between aboriginal and non-aboriginal cultures, and as a source of information about the fur trade in British Columbia. It is further valued as a picturesque recreation site.
Fort McLeod Historic Park is provincially significant as the site of a fur trading post originally established by the Northwest Company in 1805 and operated by the Hudson's Bay Company from 1821 until 1952. Despite changes over the years, including relocation of the post to the current site in 1823 from its original location a short distance west along the lake shore, the essential functions of the fur trade post continued for 148 years. During this time, buildings were added, moved or demolished to meet the changing needs of the post. The remaining structures all date from the late 1920s and early 1940s.
The site is also significant because it was the first place west of the Rocky Mountains where First Nations and non-aboriginal people co-existed on a permanent basis. The location, on the Pack River adjacent to the old Tsek'ehne village, reflects the interactions among the traders and the various First Nations and the relationships that developed between them as furs were brought into the post and then transported via the Parsnip and Peace River systems to markets outside the region. Today the post is valued as a symbol of the continuing relationship between the Euro-Canadians and the Tsek'ehne, and their ability to live and work together in this place since 1805.
The site has scientific value as a potential source of information about the inland-based fur trade throughout the entire period of fur trade activity in the BC interior. The site layout, buildings, features and above-ground and underground remains provide evidence of the activities of daily life, subsistence and commerce at a remote fur trade post. The layout of the site, with each building oriented at right angles to the others, is important because it illustrates the typical Hudson's Bay Company fort design. Another important aspect of the site layout is the absence of a palisade. There is no evidence that this site ever had such a defensive structure, and its absence makes Fort McLeod unique among all other known HBC forts.
Constructed by Company staff and labourers with limited access to outside resources and training, the four standing buildings are valued as simple vernacular structures that demonstrate the variety of methods, style, materials and building skills typical of a remote fur trade post. The main house (1929), workshop (1929) and warehouse (1926) all have the hipped roof design typical of Hudson's Bay Company buildings, while the icehouse (c. 1941) has a gable roof. The remains of site features such as boat runs on the lakeshore, the fur farm at the north end of the site, and the whip saw pit illustrate different elements of daily life and economic activity at the post.
In this tranquil lakeside setting, the buildings and remaining features evoke the unique sense of place of an isolated northern BC fur trade post. They provide a tangible link to the past and have the ability to convey to visitors what it was like to live and work at such a post in the early 20th century.
Source: Province of British Columbia, Heritage Branch
Key elements which define the heritage character of Fort McLeod Historic Park include its:
- Strategic location at the point where the Upper Pack River flows into McLeod Lake, providing connections by water to the Parsnip and Peace River systems
- Relationship between the trading post, McLeod Lake and the Upper Pack River
- Proximity to old Tsek'ehne village, current Tsek'ehne community and village of McLeod Lake
- Picturesque setting surrounded by forest
- Views of the lake from the post
- Spatial relationships among the buildings and site features
- Absence of a defensive palisade around the site
- Materials, forms, construction methods and interior arrangements of the four standing buildings, including main house, workshop, warehouse and icehouse; hip roof design on three of these structures; vernacular construction of all structures
- Above-ground and underground remains of other buildings and site features including fur farm, whip saw pit, vegetable gardens
- Remaining evidence of water-based transportation, such as boat runs
- Remaining evidence of site infrastructure such as boardwalks, fences or paths including path to waterfront
Province of British Columbia
Heritage Conservation Act, s.9, s.13(1)(a)
Provincial Heritage Site (Designated)
1805/01/01 to 1805/01/01
1823/01/01 to 1823/01/01
1952/01/01 to 1952/01/01
Theme - Category and Type
- Developing Economies
- Trade and Commerce
- Peopling the Land
- People and the Environment
- Peopling the Land
- Canada's Earliest Inhabitants
Function - Category and Type
- Historic or Interpretive Site
- Commerce / Commercial Services
- Trading Post
Architect / Designer
Hudson's Bay Company
Hudson's Bay Company
Location of Supporting Documentation
Province of British Columbia, Heritage Branch
Cross-Reference to Collection