Fort Walsh townsite (1875-1883) : early settlement in the Cypress Hills
Wutzke, Kimberly Aaron
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The town of Fort Walsh was established in 1875 next to the North-West Mounted Police post of the same name in the Cypress Hills of southwestern Saskatchewan. Although it may appear to have been an isolated town built during the burgeoning years of the Canadian west, it became a thriving centre of activity with many businesses and people of various backgrounds attracted to this locale. Both the town and the post were abandoned in 1883. Fort Walsh became a National Historic Site in 1968 and in the decades following, many areas were archaeologically recorded and excavated within the town. This thesis analyzed the artifacts of ten of these operations to identify the possible contributors of the material culture. This was accomplished by identifying the types of social (households) and economic (businesses) units that were present in the town from the historical records. A representational artifact assemblage was constructed for each unit and compared to the locales that had been excavated in the town. Analysis of the data led me to conclude that the operations best represented four family households, two Métis family households, three male-only households and one possible male-only household or restaurant. The archaeological and historical information from the town was also combined to reconstruct the layout and settlement pattern of the town. Overall, the town of Fort Walsh was found to lack organization and did not follow any type of pattern which was in contrast to the typical structured pioneer settlements of that time as was seen at the contemporaneous town of Fort Macleod. Many factors may have contributed to the settlement pattern seen at Fort Walsh including topography and access to resources. I argue within this thesis that perhaps it was the large Métis population at Fort Walsh that influenced the layout of the town since there were similarities between the settlement pattern of Fort Walsh and Métis hivernant villages in the Cypress Hills.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
CommitteeMeyer, David; Walker, Ernest; Kent, Chris
frontier and pioneer life - Saskatchewan
Canadian west settlement