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August 27, 2018: Field Trip to Fort Calgary     Fort Calgary

Today's meeting was a trip to Fort Calgary.

After a nice soup and sandwich lunch, Bill Tapuska introduced our tour guide for the day, Ruth Manning. Ruth is a native Calgarian, with previous experience at the school program at Heritage Park.

We were all led to a theatre and treated to a history lesson on Calgary:

The confluence of the Bow and Elbow rivers was well known to the First Nations tribes of Treaty 7. They have been using the site for over 11,000 years. In Blackfoot, they named it Mohkínstsis, which means "elbow".

There are three buffalo jump sites close by: around the Centre Street bridge, Canada Olympic Park and Beaver Dam Flats.

It takes 15 bison hides to make a teepee. Each year they would smoke the meat to make jerky and mix it with fat and Saskatoon berries to make pemmican which saw them through the winter.

Whiskey traders from the United States came north to hook the natives on alcohol, which was 25% ethanol. It was frequently mixed with cayenne pepper, shoe polish or varnish to give it a bigger kick.

In 1874, the Northwest Mounted Police was formed. It arrived in Calgary late August, 1875, to build the fort to combat the whiskey trade. It was originally called Fort Brisebois by officer Éphrem-A. Brisebois. Colonel James Macleod re-named it Fort Calgary after his favourite spot in Scotland. And, by the way, if you would like to own Calgary Castle on the Isle of Mull in Scotland, it's on sale for $1 million.

We were treated to two short movies about the First Nations origin and early Calgary history.

The meeting ended 10 minutes late, with Ruth available to conduct a tour of the site.

If you haven't been to Fort Calgary in a while, this reporter highly recommends it.

  • Fort Calgary image from the Fort Calgary website

reported by Duncan Stanners

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