Its commercial development began in 1876 when the Hudson's Bay Company, seeking a better fur-trade route to the PEACE RIVER region, completed construction of the ATHABASCA LANDING TRAIL from Edmonton. The small HBC post at Athabasca Landing, established 1877, expanded during the 1880s when the company made it the headquarters of a new network of STEAMBOAT transportation on the North Saskatchewan, Athabasca, Slave and Mackenzie rivers, and the home-port of the SS Athabasca (launched 1888).
During 1897-98 a tent-city at the Landing was the effective starting-out point for adventurers following the all-Canadian water route to the Yukon goldfields, and both the KLONDIKE GOLD RUSH and a lengthy visit by the Indian Treaty and Scrip Commission in 1899 stimulated the growth of a village around the HBC post. In the mid-1900s the HBC monopoly of the local fur and carrying trade was challenged successfully by rival businesses while the number of steamboats built, docked and serviced at the Landing increased dramatically.
The expanding river traffic, the arrival of thousands of homesteaders, a speculative real-estate boom and railway fever brought rapid economic and demographic growth from 1909 to 1913. In 1911 Athabasca Landing was incorporated as a town, and by August 1913, when its name was changed to Athabasca, the new municipality had a population approaching 2000. However, by 1919 railways had bypassed Athabasca and destroyed its raison d'être as an inland port.
Author DAVID GREGORY
Links to Other Sites
The Bishop Who Ate His Boots
This site profiles the exploits of Bishop Isaac O. Stringer and other missionaries who journeyed to the harsh regions of Canada’s Far North. From the Virtual Museum of Canada.
The website for the Town of Athabasca, Alberta. Features links to interesting tourism and history sites.
This online history of Athabasca Landing features an extensive photo collection and other archival data. From Library and Archives Canada.
The Athabasca Landing Trail
This website is devoted to the historic Athabasca Landing Trail, the first overland route between Edmonton and the southern loop of the Athabasca River.
Our Roots: Athabasca Landing
Check out the digitized copies of early 20th century documents about historic Athabasca Landing, Alberta.
Athabasca Landing Trail
Provides historical details about the Athabasca Landing Trail, a major 19th century trade route in northern Alberta. From the Atlas of Alberta Railways website.
Historic Trails: St. Albert to Athabasca Landing
A brief history of the historic Athabasca Landing Trail. From Alberta’s Heritage Community Foundation.
South Peace Regional Archives
The website for the South Peace Regional Archives. Check out the stories about local pioneers in the “Photo Essays” and the “Finding Aids” for additional details about the region’s history.
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