Fort White Earth, or “Lower Terre Blanche House”, doesn’t really have a lot of recorded history in Alberta – at least not from a few quick internet searches I had done, but I’m ok with that as a part of my adventures are all about getting out for the journey itself – completely regardless of the outcome and the final destination.
I had a lot of abandoned buildings to stop and explore, like this small barn on a wide open field.
This old house almost looked like it could have been occupied “today”, but sadly no. Broken windows and rotting wood have claimed the life of this cozy residence nestled back in the trees. It is sad really – we’ll abandon beautiful homes surrounded by nature for “cookie cutter” homes on a crowded city street just to pursue the all mighty dollar – often forgetting what it’s like to be relaxed and connected with nature.
Often, too, I wonder if people have abandoned items such as this tractor to become a historical thing of beauty, or if it was abandoned like we toss away our trash today – as something that’s finally outlived it’s usefulness and no longer had value to the original owner.
My journey to Fort White Earth continued on and I stumbled across this little gem of a “tiny home”. I’ve actually made it look large with my photo technique, but I had to duck in order to stick my head through the doorway. It consisted of the one room on the bottom floor, one room up above and a kitchen built onto the back of the bottom floor. I’m sure that back in its day it was a beautiful home for a couple or very small family – I find it still to be a beautiful home, and, given the opportunity, would move into a tiny home like this.
Only “around the corner” from the tiny home above is “Fort White Earth”. A very over grown area looking out over the North Saskatchewan River.
In written records of the area, the forts have been referred to as Terre Blanche, Lower Terre Blanche, Terre Blanche House, White Earth House, White Mud Brook, Lower White Earth or Mud Fort. Some of these names are related to the fact that the white mud from the river was used to coat the walls instead of whitewash, which was a common practice at the time.
Apparently there was an “Indian Hall”, a two storey “storehouse”, a blacksmith’s shop, a two-story Masters’ house and additional houses for the men and outbuildings – and that was just the North West Company fort. Forts existed here for both North West Company and the Hudson’s Bay Company.
I didn’t venture off on a lengthy hike, but a few hundred meters away from the buildings there was sign of wildlife that comes through the area.
Coyote tracks where quite visible in the light snow throughout the area…
The area where Fort White Earth is located (South-West of Smoky Lake) is quite beautiful and an enjoyable drive. I probably wouldn’t suggest you make a trip simply to see what is left of Fort White Earth, but make it a journey to explore everything this area has to offer.
I’ll be returning to this area for more investigation and more of a hike to explore the area. With a bit of luck, I may stumble across the other buildings or a bit of history that hasn’t yet been uncovered.
For more information on Fort White Earth, check out “Historic Places” website.
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