Tour - LaPrairieaire & Beyond
Start time: 9:00am
Duration: 8 hours
Starting Location: LaPrairieaire home base
Highlights: Local history, geology, archeology, commanding views, pre-colonial history
Cost: Please Contact
Beginning at LaPrairieaire Home Base, we proceed to the Battle River Valley and read the historic marker which memorializes the early community of Ferry Point which served as the centre of commerce for settlers arriving in the area, as well as a trading location for remaining natives. We then drive a short distance to a LaPrairieaire property and hike to the top of an island hill which features a pit at its northern-most possible location. Recorded documentation of a potential uses of the pit will be discussed. We then drive West approximately 2 miles to a neighbour’s property which features a “driving lane”. Originally thought to be native graves, these stone piles were interpreted by Provincial Government Historic Resources personnel to be used by natives to herd stampeding bison into a “pound” (an enclosure that was quickly sealed to capture the bison to be shot and processed).
Next, we travel North on Hwy 56 to Dried Meat Hill, situated above the Battle River and Dried Meat Lake, a site that had great historical significance to regional natives. With a commanding view of the local terrain, it was a safe location to keep watch while picking berries and drying bison on the sunny south slope in preparation for processing pemmican. Following the arrival of early white settlers, a dance hall was built on the hill to serve as an entertainment centre. The hill is now the property of the Province of Alberta which prevents any development or desecration of the site. Local people commemorated the Treaty 6 centennial in 1976 with a re-enactment on this hill, to which they invited representatives of the Cree communities around Hobbema, not far upstream on the Battle.
Next, we travel E of Camrose to the Viking Ribstones, a revered stone situated on a hilltop, which honored the importance of bison to the native lifestyle. Believed to have been carved over centuries by scoring the stone with an antler, the resulting object resembles the ribcage of a bison. Even today, natives consider the Ribstones to be a sacred site and come to place offerings of tobacco and ribbons on the enclosure and in the nearby poplar grove.
From here, we travel to the site NW of Hardisty to where the “Manitou Stone” once rested. Early missionaries who were shown the “stone” recognized it as a meteorite and referred to it as the “Iron Creek Meteorite”. To underscore the importance of the “stone” in native spiritual culture, it was worshipped by all tribes and annual gatherings were held to its honour, until missionaries, fearing it as competition to their European teachings had it loaded and transported to Victoria Mission on the North Saskatchewan River. The”stone” now resides in the Royal Alberta Museum in Edmonton.
There are three possible sites the Manitou Stone was located – one is “Wolf Ears Hill”, the second, “Strawstack Hill”, located a short distance away. Third and more likely location was on a less prominent knoll SE of the other discussed locations. All available literature was extensively researched by Ken Favrholdt in 2014 and 2015. His conclusion is presented in a paper published in the summer 2016 edition of Alberta History.
The final stop is “Flag Hill”, as it was known in the earliest settlement days because the natives would tie ribbon in the trees near its summit. The hill is the most prominent vantage point in the area and served the natives as a site to observe their adversaries and the location of bison herds.
Tour 3 is entirely travelled by car, with short hikes optional. Bring your binoculars and camera as the views from all of the stops is spectacular. We will stop for lunch as this tour consumes much of the day.