Fort Calgary restores 1876 Metis cabin: ‘Incredible that it stayed intact’

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WATCH: A big piece of the past is now on display in Calgary, giving new life to one of the oldest buildings in the city. As Gil Tucker shows us, people involved in the project are hoping it’ll give a better feel for what things were like here almost 150 years ago – Nov 16, 2018

Dave Chalmers has restored a lot of historic buildings around southern Alberta, but the Calgary project he’s just wrapped up really stands out: a Metis cabin built almost 150 years ago.

“It’s a real honour to work on these,” Chalmers said Friday.

The cabin was built in 1876 as part of the Hudson’s Bay Company fur trading post on the east side of the Elbow River opposite Fort Calgary.

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“They would’ve used clay in between the logs and that’s their insulation,” Chalmers said. “They probably went down to the river just behind us here and collected clay.”

The cabin will now be part of the exhibits at Fort Calgary, which hired Chalmers for the restoration.

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“It’s really incredible that it actually stayed intact,” Fort Calgary’s Troy Patenaude said.

“It’s actually a real honour that they’re recognizing the Metis here in Calgary,” Metis Nation Region Three vice-president Judy Gentes said.

“They were trappers, they helped the RCMP and they worked for Hudson’s Bay — just got involved in the community. A lot of the buildings then were made by the Metis.”

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Fort Calgary is hoping to have interpreters at the cabin starting in 2019, introducing it to school groups and other visitors.

“When we have buildings like the Metis cabin it helps us bring these stories to life,” Patenaude said. “And it’s good to equip our children with the awareness of history so that they can move through life knowing more about where they come from and why we are the way we are.”