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Fort Fork National Historic Site of Canada

River Lot 19, Shaftesbury Settlement, Peace River, Alberta, T8S, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1928/05/16

View of HSMBC cairn and plaque erected in 1929; Parks Canada / Parcs Canada, 1989
Location of the cairn and its plaque
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Other Name(s)

Fort Fork National Historic Site of Canada
Fort Fork
Fort Fork
Sir Alexander MacKenzie
Sir Alexander MacKenzie

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2010/08/20

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Fort Fork National Historic Site of Canada is an archaeological site located on the east bank of the Peace River, southwest of the Town of Peace River, Alberta. It sits in a wooded area about ten kilometres above the mouth of the Smoky River. There are no visible remains of the fort associated with the first transcontinental journey of Alexander Mackenzie. Official recognition refers to a semi-circle with a radius of 100 metres around the point where a line of convenience from the HSMBC cairn meets the east bank of the Peace River.

Heritage Value

Fort Fork was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1928. It is recognized because:
- it is connected with the exploration of the country and Alexander Mackenzie’s first transcontinental journey;
- Indigenous Peoples, their territories, and labour were foundational to the fur trade in North America. Posts were often built near existing Indigenous settlements, trading routes and/or meeting places and became important sites of economic, social and cultural exchange.

The heritage value of Fort Fork resides in its historical associations with the exploration of Canada, most notably by Alexander Mackenzie. Constructed in 1792, Fort Fork was the North West Company’s uppermost post on the Peace River. In May 1793, Alexander Mackenzie wintered at the fort before setting out on his historic transcontinental journey to the Pacific. In the years following, Fort Fork was used as a provisional post and was known among North West Company posts as being in good condition with a garden and extensive living quarters. With the amalgamation of the XY and the North West companies in 1804-05, Fort Fork was replaced with Fort Dunvegan National Historic Site of Canada, which was founded farther upriver.

Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, 1928, February 2010, December 2020.

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that contribute to the heritage character of the site include:
- its location in the community of Peace River, in Alberta;
- its setting on the east bank of the Peace River, about ten kilometres above the mouth of the Smoky River;
- its siting in a natural landscape overgrown with trees and shrubs;
- the integrity of any surviving or as yet unidentified archaeological remains which may be found within the site in their original placement and extent;
- viewscapes to and from the site across the Peace River.




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)

1792/01/01 to 1805/01/01
1805/01/01 to 1805/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Technology and Engineering
Peopling the Land
Migration and Immigration

Function - Category and Type



Commerce / Commercial Services
Trading Post

Architect / Designer




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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