The Métis of Southwestern Alberta
The Métis are descendants of European fur traders and Indigenous North American peoples who emerged as a distinct group in the early 19th century. Due to their close ties to the fur trade, they were located along the fur trade routes leading from Hudson’s Bay and Quebec. The first major Métis communities were located in the Red River area of Manitoba and spread to Saskatchewan and Alberta. The Métis also lived near the Great Lakes, Ontario, Quebec, North West Territories, Mackenzie River area, British Columbia and all adjoining states along the Canada-US border.
Pincher Creek’s historical district became a part of the Métis story. Early explorations of what is now southern Alberta by Peter Fidler, John Palliser, Thomas Blakiston, William S. Lee and others were led by Métis guides. In the era of the whiskey trade, the arrival of the NWMP and Treaty Number Seven, Métis translators were close at hand. The settlement of the ranching frontier and the tragic fallout of the 1885 North-West Resistance saw the mountain foothills as an ideal destination for many Métis settlers, and their legacy remains strongly entrenched around Pincher Creek.