CALGARY—Historic Fort Calgary played host to Heritage Day on Monday, providing wholesome entertainment and education for young and old alike.
The Fort was built in 1875 by the Hudson’s Bay Company from spruce and pine logs which were floated down the Elbow River from the mountains for the North West Mounted Police (NWMP), better known as Canada’s stereotypical red serge and Stetson-hatted “Mounties.”
Originally called Fort Brisebois, the Fort became the birthplace of the city of Calgary after a federal order to force out whiskey traders from the area brought an NWMP regiment commanded by Éphrem A. Brisebois.
Due to tactical considerations, Brisebois set up camp at the location where Alberta’s Bow and Elbow Rivers cross.
“Heritage Day has been a celebrated tradition here at Fort Calgary,” said Nicky Peeters, special events and marketing coordinator at the Fort.
“[Heritage Day] is very important for thinking about the past, present and future. It hits on the aspect of thinking about who you are today because of where your ancestors came from or what the reason was they moved to Calgary.”
Peeters said that the Heritage Day Event, which has free admission, has run for as long as the nine years she’s worked at the Fort and is made possible by an anonymous donor.
“We have an anonymous donor who finds it very important that local Calgarians know about their history and are intrigued by their heritage, and this would be a day to celebrate that. That gives us the opportunity to make it a free day,” she said.
The donor also provides assistance to groups and organizations that can’t afford to finance outings to the Fort themselves, covering both the cost of bussing and admission year round.
Peeters estimates the event brings several hundred people to Fort Calgary each year, but to her the statistics aren’t what is important.
“I would rather have 100 people who were here for five hours than 1,000 people who were here for 10 minutes,” she said.
“If they have a smile on their face when they leave here and spend a couple of hours, and parents can take them home and say they had a fun day, I think that’s more important than the big numbers that you can throw around.”
The event also featured special events such as face painting, craft making for children, guided tours, historical interpretations, movies about the Mounties and treasure hunts.