I parked at the old McDougall Mission at Morely, just off of Highway 1A. There’s a path that leads down to the Bow River, and along the river’s edge, another trail, which I followed walking west along the embankment. It’s a beautiful landscape that is rife with history.
Archaeological digs inform us that the First Nations people have been in the area since 9000 BCE, that’s over 11,000 years.
The first Europeans, David Thompson and Duncan McGillivray came through the area in 1800, following first the south bank of the Bow River, and then along the north bank, perhaps having walked along the very same pathway that I was standing on. Deep history. Perspective. Poignancy.
The McDougall Church is not far downstream from where the Hudson Bay Company built Piegan Post in 1832 and after that, the area became a convergence point for travelers through the area. The post closed after two seasons and the remains of the post became known locally as the Old Bow Fort.
Sir George Simpson, Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company, came through in 1841, followed by Robert Rundle in 1844. The British Army spies Warre and Vavasour came through in 1845, followed weeks later by Father Jan de Smet.
In 1854 James Sinclair and a party of a 100 Métis and 250 head of cattle passed Old Bow Fort heading for the mouth of the Columbia River on the other side of the continental divide.
1858 and 59, the Palliser Expedition stopped at the Old Bow Fort, followed by the Overlander’s heading for the Fraser River gold fields.
On the 30 Sept 1859, the Earl of Southesk travelling east passed by Old Bow Fort, headed for Edmonton.
Then in 1875, construction of the Morelyville Mission was completed by George and John McDougall.
The church and the area around it are a hotspot of early history in Alberta and a focal point for scenic wonder.
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