All of the families evicted from Jasper between 1906 and 1910 were Métis and, in some cases, had homesteaded in the Athabasca Valley for more than a century.

This is an untold story of how the west was opened by Mountain Métis freemen.

Many of these mixed bloods had legendary forefathers who were unsung heroes of the fur trade, some of which were Alberta's first businessmen known as free traders.

These were men of Indian, French and Scottish bloodlines. The Mountain Métis  are the descendants of the fur trade who have over 200 years of wildlife and wilderness management on Alberta’s eastern slopes.

JASPER NATIONAL PARK was established in 1907 and is the largest national park in the Canadian Rocky Mountains.

Families were force to leave, and some left right away, however some of the families refused to leave.

In 1910, shortly after the boundaries of Jasper National Park had been established, J.J. Maclaggan came from Ottawa to buy out claims of residents who had homes in the Jasper area.

The families included the four Moberlys: Ewan, John, Adolphus, William (Bill), as well as Isadore Findlay and Adam Joachim. Lewis Swift was the only one to stay, as he had registered his homestead.


From the early 1600s to the mid-1800s, the fur trade was a vast commercial enterprise across the wild, forested expanse of what is now Canada. Fur was needed for wide brimmed felt hats in European countries, thus the demand for beaver pelts drove the markets.

During the first half of the 1600s a sizable proportion of the young men disappeared for years to trade with Indigenous people in distant villages. As they travelled west the traders quickly formed alliances with Indigenous women, whose economic skills helped the French adapt to wilderness life. Women made clothing and moccasins and helped to supply the fur trade posts.

By the mid-1700s educated Frenchmen were keenly interested in exploring North America. There was a hope that a Frenchman would be the first to find an overland route to the western sea. By 1756 the French had reached the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, however warfare between the Blackfoot and Cree prevented further advances. In 1774 the HBC penetrated inland and built Cumberland House. The North West Company (NWC) rose rapidly to a position of dominance. In 1789 Alexander Mackenzie carried the NWC’s flag to the Arctic Ocean, and in 1793 he reached the Pacific Ocean overland. Later explorers such as Simon Fraser and David Thompson opened up the fur lands west of the Rocky Mountains.

An excerpt from a Provincial Archives of Alberta document shares the story of the Mountain Metis families that settled in the Canadian Rockies. “At the end of the eighteenth century (circa 1770s), three Iroquois came to what is now known as Alberta. These three, Louis and Ignace Karakwante and Ignace Wanyandie came from the Indian Village of Caughnawaga, nine miles east of Montreal, Quebec. They followed the customary water route from Montreal to Fort Garry, now known as Winnipeg, Manitoba. At this point they joined Joseph Belcourt and continued west by way of Cumberland House, up the Churchill River to Beaver River, to Lac La Biche. From there they portaged to the forest of the Athabasca.”[1]

“In the Athabasca, the three Iroquois took wives of the Sekanaise tribe of the Montagnais Nation. Roaming the country, they did much of the early exploring of the Rocky Mountains and its passes and of Lesser and Greater Slave Lakes. They were reported to have gone down the Mackenzie River and to Great Bear Lake. Later they were the guides of Alexander Mackenzie, David Thompson, Cheadle, and others.”[2]

Archival documents reveal that the North West Company was the first fur trading company to arrive in the Athabasca District. Early records show the list of coureur des bois (independent trader or freeman) or voyageurs (canoe men or travellers) and Bourgeois (District Officers) in the North West Company, came into the Athabasca District as early as 1804. The Hudson’s Bay had the monopoly on the land that drained into Hudson’s Bay. The Athabasca District drains into the Arctic Ocean and therefore, was under the jurisdiction of the North West Company.

The French Coureur de Bois, the Iroquois Voyageurs and Scottish Factors who married Sekanaise women produced the families who settled on the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rockies.

[1] Alberta Provincial Archives: Accession No 71.185

[2] Alberta Provincial Archives: Accession No 71.185