Rocky Mountain House | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Rocky Mountain House

Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, incorporated as a town in 1939, population 6,635 (2016 census), 6,933 (2011 census). The town of Rocky Mountain House is located on the North Saskatchewan River, 81 km west of Red Deer. It is near the site of the North West Company’s fur trade post of the same name.

Indigenous Peoples and Treaties

Rocky Mountain House is located on the traditional territory of the Siksikaitsitapi (Blackfoot Confederacy), Tsuut’ina, Stoney Nakoda, Cree, Saulteaux (see Anishinaabe) and Métis peoples. The area is covered by Treaty 6, signed in 1876.

Trading Posts

In 1799, the North West Company built the first fur trade post called Rocky Mountain House. They built the post to develop trade with the Ktunaxa. The post was the base from which David Thompson crossed the Rockies in 1807. From 1821 the Hudson’s Bay Company operated Rocky Mountain House intermittently, rebuilding it three times. The trading post was finally abandoned as unprofitable in 1875.


Thirty years after the Hudson’s Bay Company abandoned the last trading post, settlers began arriving to the area. They arrived mainly from central Canada, the American Midwest and the United Kingdom. Coal deposits at Nordegg, 87 km to the west, attracted two railways through Rocky Mountain House. The first railway was built in 1912, the second in 1914.


The oil, natural gas and tourism industries are important to Rocky Mountain House’s economy. The fur trade post is now a national historic site (see Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site).

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