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Fort Qu’Appelle

Town, pop 1,940, located in the Qu’Appelle Valley 70 km NE of Regina between Echo and Mission Lakes. The community is served by Hwys 10, 22, 35, 56, and 210. Named for the Qu’Appelle River, Fort Qu’Appelle was the crossroads of a number of historic trails that traversed the North-West Territories. An Anglican mission was established in 1854 and the Hudson’s Bay Company built a post at Fort Qu’Appelle in 1864. After 1870, there was an influx of Métis from Red River. Cree and Saulteaux peoples signed Treaty 4 at Fort Qu’Appelle in 1874, followed somewhat thereafter by the establishment of a NWMP post. Chief Sitting Bull and a party of Sioux travelled to Fort Qu’Appelle from Wood Mountain in 1881 to secure provisions, and to negotiate with Superintendent James Walsh in a last-ditch effort to remain in Canada. A post office was established at Fort Qu’Appelle in 1880; settlers began to appear and the homesteading era began in earnest. At least a dozen businesses had been established by 1882. On April 6, 1885, General Middleton marched out of Fort Qu’Appelle en route to Batoche. As the fur trade waned and the district became increasingly settled, agriculture came to play a significant role in the expansion of the community. Shortly after the province of Saskatchewan was formed, Fort Qu’Appelle, along with several other communities, vied to become the new provincial capital; however, Premier Scott was unswayed and the seat of government remained at Regina. Significant development of Fort Qu’Appelle occurred in the years prior to World War I as the railway came through the valley. The recreational potential of the district began to be exploited and numerous cottages began to appear on the area lakes. In 1913, construction began on a fish culture station near Fort Qu’Appelle and, to date, the facility has supplied more than 2 billion fish to stock water bodies throughout the province. Construction began on the Fort Qu’Appelle Sanatorium (Fort San) for tuberculosis patients in 1912, though wartime exigencies delayed its opening until 1917. Fort Qu’Appelle experienced steady growth and, on January 1, 1951, the community attained town status. The population that year was 878 and the town continued growing until the early 1980s, at which point the population stabilized close to its current level. Today, Fort Qu’Appelle is a shopping, service, and institutional centre serving the surrounding farming community, neighbouring resort villages, cottagers and summer vacationers, as well as several area First Nations reserves, the nearest of those being the Standing Buffalo and Pasqua First Nations. A Treaty 4 Governance Centre was completed at Fort Qu’Appelle in recent years, housing administrative and educational offices for the 34 bands that comprise the Treaty 4 First Nations. The facility also includes an archives, a museum, and a cultural centre, and a striking feature of the building is the Legislative Council Chamber, designed in the form of a large contemporary teepee. The former Hudson’s Bay Company store in Fort Qu’Appelle, built in 1897, remains a community landmark, as does the 1911 GRAND TRUNK PACIFIC RAILWAY station.

David McLennan

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