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near Wetaskiwin, Alberta, T0C, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1997/12/18

Fort Ethier Provincial Historic Resource, near Wetaskiwin (August 2005); Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, 2005
Viewed from the south
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Other Name(s)

Indian Industrial Farm
Peace Hills Indian Industrial Farm
Government Supply Farm No. 8
Fort Ethier Bastion
Peace Hills Indian Farm
Peace Hills Gov. Farm
Supply Farm 18 (FgPi-8)

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2006/03/30

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Fort Ethier is a situated on a 0.2 hectare block of land approximately ten kilometres north of Wetaskiwin, along the bank of Bigstone Creek. The site includes a late nineteenth century log blockhouse featuring three loopholes (or gunports) on each elevation and a pyramidal roof crowned by a central flagpole.

Heritage Value

The heritage value of Fort Ethier lies in its direct association with the 1885 North-West Rebellion. It also has a historic connection to the farm of Samuel Brigham Lucas. Lucas played a significant role in the establishment of reserves in the area after the signing of Treaty 6.

In 1885, a number of long standing conflicts between the federal government and settlers, First Nations and Metis led to the outbreak of the North-West Rebellion. Despite their grievances, most non-Aboriginal settlers balked at joining the Rebellion, and the large majority of First Nations also chose to pursue their own, non-violent efforts to redress their concerns. Active resistance to the federal government was centred among the Metis of the Saskatchewan River region. There were, however, enough incidents of violence or threatened violence for the government to intervene by sending troops to the North-West to suppress the rebellion.

Some of these troops, members of the 65th Battalion Mount Royal Rifles under Captain Leander Joseph Ethier, were sent to Calgary to join the Alberta Field Force organized there by Major General Thomas Bland Strange. Strange was charged with defending the Alberta District of the North-West Territories and with keeping First Nations groups in the district peaceful. Strange established three small forts, or blockhouses, along his route north to Edmonton: Fort Normandeau at Red Deer, Fort Ostell at Ponoka and Fort Ethier. The latter was built in May 1885 on Samuel Lucas's farm, just north of the present city of Wetaskawin. Fort Ethier was intended to protect settlers and to discourage local First Nations bands from joining the rebellion. The fort site originally consisted of the surviving blockhouse, a palisade, trenches and some of the Lucas family farm buildings. It was never attacked and was probably unnecessary as the First Nations in the Peace Hills Agency remained largely peaceful. The fort was abandoned in June 1885, when it was learned that the Rebellion had been effectively suppressed.

The log blockhouse at Fort Ethier is the only building linked directly to the activities of the Alberta Field Force during the North-West Rebellion, and one of the few with a strong association with the events of 1885. Modeled on bastions built in central Canada, the blockhouse features hand-hewn round and square log construction with loopholes on each elevation and a pyramidal roof. The blockhouse has undergone several restorations, but retains the integrity of its original design.

Fort Ethier also has heritage value for its association with Samuel Brigham Lucas. Lucas was employed as a farm instructor in 1879 and later served as agent for the Peace Hills Agency, which included the Bobtail, Samson and Ermineskin bands. He acquired the property in 1879 and used it to produce food to help feed First Nations in the agency in the first years after the signing of Treaty 6. Lucas was also expected to use the farm to teach basic farming techniques to First Nations groups. When the reserves at Hobbema were established the agency farm was moved there, but the Lucas family retained ownership of this farm, and thus the Fort Ethier site.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 703)

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of Fort Ethier include such features as:
- mass, form, and style;
- location relative to historic Calgary - Edmonton Trail and Bigstone Creek;
- hand-hewn round and squared log construction with half lap corner joints;
- weathered inscriptions in the logs of the southwest wall;
- regularly spaced wood trunnels;
- pyramidal roof with narrow log corner rafters sheathed in overlapping rough-cut boards running from the peak to the eaves;
- three loopholes on second storey of each elevation;
- unattached floating plank first floor;
- flag pole with base resting on planked flooring;
- ladder between first and second floors.




Recognition Authority

Province of Alberta

Recognition Statute

Historical Resources Act

Recognition Type

Provincial Historic Resource

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1885/01/01 to 1885/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Governing Canada
Military and Defence

Function - Category and Type



Military Defence Installation

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 703)

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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