Lethbridge, AB, T1J 4A2
Contact Person: James Haney
In 1869, the earliest and most notorious of the so-called "whisky forts" was constructed, Fort Whoop-Up. Established by John Healy and Alfred Hamilton for the sole purpose of gaining a quick profit through the illicit trade of liquor with the native people of the unprotected southern prairies of western Canada. The first fort built on the site, Fort Hamilton, was actually destroyed and burned by the Blackfoot in the area at what is hailed as the last great Indian battle fought in North America, but in 1870 a second fort, Fort Whoop-Up, was built to take its place.
From 1869-1874 traders dealing in contraband liquor and firearms so demoralized the First Nations that violence and disorder resulted. Fearing further chaos and the encroachment of Americans and their philosophy of Manifest Destiny onto Canadian soil in 1873 the federal government assembled a police force, the North West Mounted Police (predecessors of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police), who travelled west from Manitoba for the sole purpose of restoring order and keeping the peace on the western Canadian plains. Shortly after their arrival in the area, Fort Whoop-Up and other whisky posts like it were abandoned. After 1875 members of the North West Mounted Police force in the area used Fort Whoop-Up as an outpost. The last vestiges of the original Fort were lost to a flood in 1915, however visitors can now wander around a replica of the fort, including the police barracks, bunkhouse, livery, kitchen, trade room, Indian room, bastions, corral and garden, all reconstructed in 1967.
Contact Information and Location
Hours of Operation
May - September: Monday - Saturday: 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Sunday: 12:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Call for winter hours.
From down town Lethbridge, proceed to third avenue south, then travel west on third avenue, crossing Scenic Drive, follow third avenue down the hill into the river bottom and Indian Battle Park. Fort Whoop Up is located in Indian Battle Park, first turn on the left at the bottom of the hill.