Fort Calgary Preservation Society
Our Story Why We Exist
The confluence of the Bow and Elbow Rivers is a significant place. Known to the Blackfoot as Moh’Kinsstis, the confluence has special meaning to the Siksika – it is the place where Napi created people, tracing its history to the very origins of humanity. This site is at the heart of traditional Blackfoot territory, and was important to other Indigenous peoples who came here to hunt, camp, and cross the river. For thousands of years, the confluence has retained its significance as a gathering place.
The confluence is also the place where the North West Mounted Police began their mission to bring peace, order and good government to western Canada. The humble Fort built on this site, in 1875, was the foundation of the city of Calgary and played a significant role in the evolution of Canada’s world-renowned RCMP. The original fort evolved from a police administration centre into the centre of the growing community.
Today the confluence is where the past meets the present. Fort Calgary tells the stories of many cultures that continue to evolve and define who we are as Calgarians. It is a place where people gather to gain a richer understanding of how our past shapes our present and future. It is a place for truth, and for reconciliation.
Our Impact What We Do
Fort Calgary is unique. It is a national, provincial and municipal historic site that marks the original location of the North West Mounted Police (NWMP) Fort built in 1875 at the confluence of the Bow and Elbow Rivers. It is the symbolic hub and heart of the community. It is the authentic lens through which Calgary’s history is interpreted.
People have been coming to this site for thousands of years, and today it is a major attraction in the rapidly developing neighbourhood of East Village. Located on 40 acres of parkland on the eastern edge of downtown Calgary, our outdoor site provides access to Riverwalk along the Bow and Elbow Rivers, a constructed wetland, a community garden that donates produce to the Drop-In Centre, and a place to contemplate the city’s origins in a beautiful setting.
Inside, we offer temporary and permanent exhibits exploring Calgary’s diverse history in our Interpretive Centre. RCMP Veterans volunteer countless hours sharing their personal experiences with the Force, giving visitors an authentic link to the Fort’s past. Meeting and banquet facilities are available to celebrate, plan and create events that add to the stories of the people and organizations of Calgary.
Each year, thousands of school children from Calgary and the surrounding area visit our Learning Centre to participate in hands-on programming with direct links to the Alberta Social Studies, Language Arts and Science curriculum. Our fun, interactive programs led by trained facilitators encourage inquiry-based learning and critical thinking about history and the environment.
A short stroll across the Elbow leads to the Deane House, the former home of Captain Richard Burton Deane, the Fort’s last Commanding Officer, and the only remaining building from the Mounted Police era. The Deane House, currently closed for rehabilitation as part of our MAKE HISTORY Capital Campaign, offers a restaurant featuring fresh, local cuisine. Also under restoration is the Hunt House, once the residence of the Hudson’s Bay Company Factor and the oldest house in Calgary on its original location.
Our Programs How We Do It
Our goal is to raise people’s awareness about Fort Calgary and to make them understand the significance of the Fort in their community.
Our award-winning School Programs are one of the ways we achieve that goal.
Fort Calgary offers twelve different school programs for grades kindergarten through seven. Our school programs objectives are focused on building an understanding of the North West Mounted Police and the important role that they played in Calgary’s early history and development. The programs are linked to the Alberta Learning Program curriculum and cover a range of topics. For example, “Calgary: A Prairie Community”, one of our most popular programs, celebrates the diversity of our prairie home. Students build a giant 3-D map of our city and celebrate the language and culture of Calgary’s founding communities. The children get a chance to dress in costume, learn new languages and handle artifacts as they learn what make different cultures unique.
Tours of the Fort Calgary Interpretive Centre and 1888 Barracks are also essential in telling our story. A visit to Fort Calgary begins with a brief history of the founding of Fort Calgary and the founding of the North West Mounted Police in Canada. Individuals/Groups are greeted by our interpretive staff who will bring to life the defining moments in the opening of the Canadian West through authentic experiences and our original location. A video presentation is included to enrich the guest experience. The remaining portion of the tour is self-directed and visitors can explore our many temporary and permanent exhibits. Visitors are encouraged to have their picture taken in an authentic Mounted Police uniform. It is also highly recommended that visitors leave time to explore the site and stroll along the scenic Bow and Elbow Rivers.
Special Events are integral in reaching larger audiences and connecting with our community. Winter Carnival, Mountie Day, Canada Day, Heritage Day, Alberta Culture Days and Doors Open YYC are all free, family oriented events. These events give Fort Calgary a chance to reach a broader demographic of people who may not have the financial means to visit Fort Calgary.
We also encourage people to make their own history with our Food and Beverage Department. What better place to plan for the future or celebrate the past than the place where it all began? Fort Calgary provides an authentic historical setting for meaningful events. With full-service meeting and banquet facilities, our guests can rest assured that they will experience Fort Calgary’s well-earned reputation for western hospitality.
Fort Calgary also hosts private and Corporate events such as the Downtown Rotary Stampede Round-Up Concerts and X-Fest.
Ultimately, Fort Calgary is a place where Calgarians will come for all kinds of reasons: educational, social, recreational and business. Whatever the reason, we strive to ensure that they will leave feeling that they understand, respect and belong to Calgary.
Our Requests What You Can Do
Fort Calgary has exciting opportunities for you to become a part of history:
1. Support our MAKE HISTORY Capital Campaign:
With trailblazing heroes like Colonel James Macleod, who gave Calgary its name, and Corporal George C. King, Calgary’s first citizen and second mayor, and iconic buildings like the Deane House and Hunt House, it’s clear how important our history is to our future. With that in mind, Fort Calgary has embarked on our MAKE HISTORY Capital Campaign
In response to the ambitious redevelopment of East Village, Fort Calgary has very exciting plans to reposition itself as the centre of the community. Our MAKE HISTORY Capital Campaign is an opportunity to reimagine, restore and celebrate the importance of this national historic site to past generations and generations to come, with a comprehensive plan to reinvigorate the site.
- Interpretive Centre Expansion will renovate and expand the Interpretive Centre featuring new exhibits bridging the past, present and future of Calgary. The expanded Interpretive Centre will house the Children’s Education Centre, an orientation hall and theatre, and permanent and temporary exhibits focused on three great Canadian stories: the story of Calgary, the story of the North West Mounted Police, and the story of the Hudson’s Bay Company. It will also contain a resource centre and library that documents this rich and important past.
- Deane House Rehabilitation, currently in progress, is restoring the interior and exterior of the last remaining original building from the Mountie era. This project expands opportunities to tell stories of Captain Deane, the NWMP and the Grand Trunk Railway, while allowing adaptive re-use as a restaurant. The replica of Captain Deane’s garden surrounding the house tells the story of gardening on the prairies. NOW COMPLETE
- Hunt House Restoration is already underway and will fully conserve Calgary’s oldest house and save it before it deteriorates beyond salvation. Restoration includes extensive archeology, preservation of the original log structure, and construction of a glass enclosure to protect it from the elements. NOW COMPLETE
- The Upgraded Community Park Space will enhance this major urban park for recreation, large community events, and improved access to history with interpretive signage and furnishings.NOW COMPLETE
- The 1875 Fort will evoke the memory of the NWMP “F” Troop and the role that they played in the evolution of Calgary. NOW COMPLETE
- We will expand our Community Programming and Events, from education programs to community and corporate events such as Canada Day, Winter Carnival and Stampede Round-Up.
2. Volunteer at the Fort:
Fort Calgary acknowledges the vital role that our volunteers play in preserving the history of the North West Mounted Police and early Calgary. Volunteer support ensures that Fort Calgary's mission is fulfilled through our programs and exhibits. Volunteer benefits include the experience of working in a museum/historic site setting, the opportunity to acquire historical knowledge, a volunteer recognition program and the chance to interact with both the visiting public and other volunteers. Volunteer positions vary according to the time of year and we offer episodic, seasonal and long-term opportunities.
To see our current volunteer opportunities, visit our website at www.fortcalgary.com/resources/volunteering/ or contact our Volunteer Resources Coordinator, Dianne Precosky at 403-290-1875 extension 229 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.