Métis Ward: How river lots shaped Edmonton MAY-TEA

The Métis are an instrumental part of Canada’s history, especially in the development of the west. The Métis originated in the early 1700’s when French and Scottish fur traders married Indigenous women, such as the Cree and Anishinaabe (Ojibway). After a few generations, the descendants of these marriages formed a distinct culture, collective consciousness and nationhood. Communities were established along the fur trade route, and today the Métis Nation homeland is located across three prairie provinces (Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta), as well as parts of Ontario, British Columbia, the Northwest Territories and the northern United States. 

As the fur trade slowed and farming became a greater necessity, many Métis developed river lots along the North Saskatchewan River, close to Fort Edmonton. 

River lots were a common style of farming in Métis culture. A river lot is a long, narrow farm lot that starts at the river and extends backward, giving easy access to fresh water, wooded areas and plenty of space for farming. 

Over time, large Métis communities established themselves along the North Saskatchewan River. Marriage unions, close friendships, and a sense of community built a thriving Métis community around Fort Edmonton. 

A land survey in 1882 determined that there were 44 large river lots, located side by side along the river. Soon after, these lots were absorbed by a rapidly expanding Edmonton.  However, their unique shape and connection to the North Saskatchewan River is now reflected in the city’s design – the pattern has influenced the city Edmontonians know and love today. Because of the Métis and the integral part they played in the formation of the city, the ward has been given the name Métis to honour a cornerstone in Edmonton’s history. 

Ward map.