Alberta is rich in history. The many museums and cultural heritage sites in our province showcase that rich cultural history, and we all benefit. One of those cultural experiences takes place at Métis Crossing, Alberta’s first cultural interpretive centre.
Métis Crossing is only an hour and a half from Edmonton, and just 10 minutes south of the town of Smoky Lake. It’s a lovely peaceful drive, through farm and lake lands. The journey there is a treat for birdwatchers and nature lovers, but the real pleasure is when you arrive.
Métis Crossing is a 512 acre historic site on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River. Historically, it was a major site and meeting place for the Métis, the Europeans and Indigenous people during the 1700s and 1800s in Canada. At this site today, everyone can learn about this distinct Indigenous group and celebrate their experiences. It is also a place for special events, weddings, and meetings. It may seem strange to hold a wedding event, or a business function at a museum site, but in this case, it all fits. This museum includes a brand new, state-of-the art gathering place for corporate training and other events.
The Métis are distinct in Canada due to a mixed Indigenous and European ancestry. When the French and Scottish fur traders married Indigenous women, this distinct culture was formed. Here at the Métis Crossing, they want to tell their story and share their values and experiences. Learn some Michif, bake bannock over a campfire, or try your hand at beadwork or weaving. Or just take some time to enjoy the outdoors with fishing, hiking or connecting with the night sky.
There is a lot to do here. The Métis have a distinct Indigenous story and there is a great deal to learn. Time spent here will take you beyond the Canadian history that you learned in school. This is an immersive experience, in a location that is not standing still. During the winter or summer, guests can experience the kinds of experiences that the Métis would have had at that time of year. Try snowshoeing, snaring, build your own shelter, or try other traditional arts and foods. Stay overnight and camp beneath the stars and really experience life outdoors. Be prepared for all weather!
Métis Crossing doesn’t only take guests into the past. There are opportunities to learn about the Métis people today. Did you know that there are more than 96,865 Métis in Alberta today? The Métis Crossing Interpretive Centre has plans to become a year-round destination that will teach and showcase the distinct culture and history of the Metis people and also show that the Métis are still a thriving part of the culture and population.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, check the website to ensure this location is open, and for protocols to follow, as the situation evolves.
Susan Hofforth is a freelance writer and a contributor to Great West Media. This story was written for the Hot Summer Guide advertising feature. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff.