Athabasca Landing Trail History

Historic Highlights

1795 - Fort Augustus

1795: Fort Augustus was constructed by the North West Company just north of Lamoureux. As many as four other forts followed on the site. A cairn on the trail gives the fort's history.

1799: Athabasca Landing visited and mapped by explorer David Thompson.

1840: First known written record of a trail between the elbow of the Athabasca River and the Saskatchewan River system. It was dubbed "The 100 Mile Portage."

1872: Lamoureux, settled by Joseph and Francis Lamoureux in 1872, is one of the oldest settlements on the trail. Strategically located at the junction of the Victoria and Athabasca Landing trails, it had a ferry, sawmill/lumberyard and gravel operaions. The Lamoureux Catholic Church was built in 1906 and remains in use.

1874: Fort Saskatchewan, a post for the Northwest Mounted Police, was established this year and was linked to the trail by the Lamoureux ferry. A replica fort and park depict this early history.

1876 - Trail

1876: The Hudson's Bay Company commissioned the trail in 1874 and completed it in 1876 for just over $4,000. It was the first road between Fort Edmonton and Athabasca Landing, and became a central distribution point for furs going south and goods going north.

1877: Hudson's Bay Co. established a trading post at Athabasca Landing (now Athabasca). The Northwest Mounted Police and an Anglican Bishop followed.

1890: The Athabasca Landing Trail became Alberta's first Dominion Highway and Canada's first toll road.

1892: Gibbons (originally called Battenburg) was renamed for William Gibbons who settled there in 1892 and ran a stopping house.

1896: Stopping houses provided food and shelter to the workers, miners and horses. The earliest known stopping house built along the trail was Egge's (1896). The original bunk house can be seen from the trail; the house was moved to Fort Edmonton Park in Edmonton.

1897: James McLean surveyed the route and recorded only five homesteaders living between the Sturgeon River and Athabasca Landing.

1898- Gold Rush

1898: The Gold Rush brought prosperity. Six hundred prospectors used the trail to get to the Klondike. Athabasca Landing grew from 26 residents to 2,800 tents and shacks. The Kennedy stage coach started operations this year, delivering people and mail along the route. Two steam paddle wheelers, 18 barges and too many canoes to count left the Landing in both directions.

1904 - Ukrainian Church

1904: St. Mary's Ukrainian Catholic Church was built near Waugh

1905: The Lewis family moved from Gibbons to Lewiston (now Perryvale) and ran a stopping house and post office there. Descendants of the family still live there and the original barn is still standing.

1905: Colinton established in 1905 (original name was Kinnoull). St. Andrew's Church, now located in Kinnoull Park, is a registered historic site. St. Alban's Anglican Church was built in 1912.

1905: The first Redwater Bridge was built of food in 1905; a steel bridge replaced it in 1912.

1906: Ferry service begins in Athabasca for crossing of the Athabasca River.

1912 - Off the Railroad

1912: The railroad reached Athabasca and the trail lost its importance as a major transportation route. Many communities that had sprung up along its length were now connected by the railway.

1912: Rochester, originally named Ideal Flats, is renamed in honor of Herbert Rochester, general manager of CNR from 1909-1915.

1912: Athabasca Methodist Church constructed in Athabasca.

1920: Gamborski's stone fence, constructed from field stone, built about 1920.

1952 - Heritiage Protection

1952: The Alberta Government Travel Bureau recognized the Athabasca Trail as a significant historical resource. In 1955, the trail was identified as one of the top ten sites needing protection and preservation.

1963: The Provincial Parks Board and Historical Sites Advisory Committee recommended in a report that the Tawatinaw River Valley and its watershed be considered a Heritage Corridor.

1965: A one-mile section of the Athabasca Landing Trail on the east side of Lily Lake was designated an eco-preserve.

1970s: In 1970, Members of the Historical Society of Alberta made a trip up the Athabasca Landing Trail and recommended protecting this historical site in its entirety. In 1975, Alberta Culture (Heritage Sites Services) released the Douglas Babcock Report, which recommended the protection of the Trail. The Edmonton Regional Planning Commission developed a draft report in 1978 that recognized the presence of the Athabasca Landing Trail and its value as a historical site, and gave guidelines for zoning the areas adjacent to water, thus recognizing natural spaces, recreation and wildlife habitat.

1977: Pioneer Trail North Foundation Activities, formed in 1975, conducts a geophoto-based reconnaissance study and mapping of trail in 1977.

1979: Old St. Mary's Church at Waugh designated a Historical Resource

1981: First annual recognition dinner held at Tawatinaw; Alberta Lieutenant-Governor installed as honourary trailmaster

1981: Purchase of land for development of Lily Lake Nature Park

1982: Official opening of the restored Old St. Mary's Church

1982 -

1982: Application to have 3 sections of the Athabasca Landing Trail designated as a historical resource is submitted.

1984: First Annual Commemorative Trail Ride on Athabasca Landing Trial

1999: Alberta TrailNet approached the councils of Sturgeon, Thorhild, Westlock and Athabasca for the approval of the Trans Canada Trail.  This approval was given in principle by all four jurisdictions.

2000's ALT Committee

2000: Alberta TrailNet conducted a community consultation (394 interviews) to determine local, public acceptance for the Athabasca Landing Trail segment of the Trans Canada Trail. Results appear in the Athabasca Landing Trail Conservation and Trans Canada Recreational Trail Plan.


2000s: Pioneer Trail North Foundation and Rainbow Equitation Society develop 27 kilometres of the Trans Canada Trail near Halfmoon Lake.

2008: Athabasca Landing Trail steering committee formed with representation from Alberta TrailNet, Government of Alberta, Athabasca County, Town of Athabasca, Town of Gibbons, Westlock County, Sturgeon County, Rainbow Equitation Society and Athabasca Recreational Trails Association. City of Fort Saskatchewan joins committee in 2009. Most organizations provide funding support.

2009: The steering committee contracts Stantec Inc. to conduct a community consultation leading to the development of a conceptual master plan in 2010.

2010 - Redwater

2010: Redwater Bridge 246 over the Redwater River is rebuilt in winter 2010; an official opening is held in May 2010.

2010: Volunteers build staging areas in Rochester and Colinton, and add signage in Perryvale.

2011: An engineering study is completed relating to the construction of a proposed trail bridge across the North Saskatchewan River linking Fort Saskatchewan and Lamoureux.

2012: Opening of Peace River Trai