The construction of Cumberland House in 1774 marked a change in HBC policy, which had hitherto expected Indigenous people to bring their furs to the bay posts to trade.
Cumberland House, Sask, Northern Village, pop 810 (2006c), 632 (2001c). Cumberland House is the oldest continuously occupied site in Saskatchewan and the first western inland post built by the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC). Henley House (1743), 200 km from the coast on the Albany River, which flows into James Bay, was the company's first inland post. Cumberland House is located on Pine Island in the Saskatchewan River. The site, at the southeastern corner of Cumberland Lake on the route from Hudson Bay to the Saskatchewan and Churchill rivers fur trading areas, was selected in 1774 by Samuel Hearne after competitors began to intercept furs from the area's Indigenous people. The post was named for Prince Rupert, duke of Cumberland. The Cree call it Waskahiganihk.
The construction of Cumberland House in 1774 marked a change in HBC policy, which had hitherto expected Indigenous people to bring their furs to the bay posts to trade. It also marked the beginning of intense rivalry between the HBC and Montréal traders, later the North West Company, which lasted until 1821. Cumberland House became less important to the fur trade in the mid-19th century when more direct trade routes to the interior were developed. The iron keel of the sternwheeler Northcote, burned by Gabriel Dumont's men at the siege of Batoche in 1885, lies on the south bank of the Saskatchewan River nearby.
The completion of an all-weather road in 1967 connected Cumberland House to southern Saskatchewan, but the community had to wait until 1996 for a bridge to be constructed across the Saskatchewan River. This predominately Métis community's economy is based on trapping, farming, fishing, sawmilling, hunting and guiding. Adjacent to the community is the reserve of the Cumberland House Cree Nation.