Directions: From Edmonton, take Hwy 16 west, exit onto Hwy 43 north, turn left at Hwy 33 toward Barrhead, turn right at Hwy 661, and follow to Fort Assiniboine.
Distance: 161 km, or 2 hours and 19 minutes, from Edmonton.
Info: 780-778-8400; 1-888-870-6315; www.woodlands.ab.ca.
Records spanning the Hudson’s Bay Company era (1823-77) show that Fort Assiniboine served as a supply point for settlers. Later, stampeders making the long trek to the Klondike followed a northwestern path from Edmonton to Dawson City in the Yukon Territory, with gold seekers wintering at Klondike City, about 16 kilometres north of Fort Assiniboine, in 1898 and 1899. During the gold rush, the North-West Territories government sent T. W. Chalmers to make a trail from
Klondike City to Lesser Slave Lake in central Alberta. The Canadian government, as well as
Edmontonians, promoted the trail as the all-Canadian route to the easy gold of the Yukon.
A group of present-day Fort Assiniboine residents formed the Klondike Trail Society to recognize Chalmers’s section of the trail. They are working to locate, map, and mark the first 400 kilometres leading out of Edmonton to Dawson Citythe section of the Klondike Trail now called Grizzly Trail Highway 33. Most of the stampeders who attempted this treacherous route to the Yukon arrived too late to stake claims. Others gave up before reaching the goldfields and settled in Fort Assiniboine and other communities as they headed north.
In 2005, Fort Assiniboine became home to the world’s largest wagon wheel and pickaxe. Next to the Fort Assiniboine Museum, the seven-metre-tall wheel and six-metre-tall pickaxe commemorate the pioneers who built the community of Fort Assiniboine, the gold seekers who camped in the area, and the community’s place as home to Alberta’s second-oldest fort.
Annual Fort Assiniboine events include the Hamlet Hoedown (August), as well as a dramatic reenactment of the night Jesus was born called Journey to Bethlehem, which is held during the last two weekends of November.
FORT ASSINIBOINE MAP Photo Gallery
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