Original Humboldt

 

The Site of Original Humboldt

The Original Humboldt site is 80 acres of land located 8 km west of Humboldt on Highway #5 and 3 km south on Telegraph Road. It features the national historic event plaque commemorating the Dominion Telegraph Line, as well as storyboards of the 1878 Humboldt Telegraph Station, Carlton Trail, George and Catherine Weldon, Humboldt Mail Station, the Métis people, Chief Whitecap, and Lt. Col. George Denison’s military camp during the 1885 NorthWest Resistance. 

 

History at Original Humboldt

Original Humboldt was located on the Carlton Trail as an important part of the movement of people and goods overland between Winnipeg and Edmonton before the arrival of the railway.

Original Humboldt was part of the 1876 Dominion Telegraph Line. The Humboldt telegraph station was built in 1878 by George Weldon, whose wife Catherine would become the first female telegraph operator in the west. The first telegraph message from Humboldt was sent on August 25, 1878.

Major General Frederick Middleton halted at the Humboldt Station on April 13, 1885, after marching from Fort Qu'Appelle. Middleton's soldiers rested at Humboldt and then merged with other forces.  The troops left Humboldt on April 15 after a cold and wet night, en route to Batoche.

Colonel Denison and his troops arrived at the Humboldt Telegraph Station on May 1, 1885, after marching four days from Fort Qu’Appelle. Denison fortified the site by digging rifle pits to shelter his men. The rifle pits were then enlarged and connected, while deepening the ditches in front. The interior ditch was two feet deep, the exterior one about four feet. The men nick-named the camp Fort Denison.

Denison's instructions were to remain at Humboldt and guard the large supply depot. During the battle, Denison notes that “Humboldt became the end of the telegraph line.” The line further west was routinely cut to hamper communications with the government. Denison sent troopers with messages for Middleton to the Batoche area. On one occasion the rider returned to find a bullet embedded in the horse’s neck.

The significance of the stories from this national event are an important aspect of the development of Humboldt and area, and of our Canadian history. 
A Line Through the Wilderness, an exhibit in the Virtual Museum of Canada on Original Humboldt, gives more detail on these events.

 

Archaeological Research & Site Development

Public Access Area - The public access area was opened at Original Humboldt in 2011 with seven storyboard panels that tell the story of the site by His Honour the Honorable Dr. Gordon L. Barnhart, Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan.

Flag Ceremony - In 2012, members of the Governor General’s Horse Guards visited the Original Humboldt site. The Guards led a flag ceremony at the 1885 military area, where Lt. Colonel Denison stationed his regiment. The flag of the Governor General’s Horse Guards as well as the Union Jack were raised to mark the first time in 127 years that the Guards stood on the ground of their camp during the 1885 NorthWest Resistance.

New Art Installations - In 2013, two art installations were created to further commemorate the Original Humboldt site. A metal log cabin was created by Murray Cook, and a metal Red River Cart by Don Wilkins. An unveiling took place on June 12, where special guests included, Her Honour the Honourable Vaughn Solomon Schofield, Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan, and His Honour Gordon Schofield.
 
 

Storyboards and Métis Flag - In the summer of 2014, the interpretive storyboards for these artworks will be installed, and the flag of the Métis Nation, donated by Métis President, Robert Doucette will be flown beside the Red River Cart.

 

Archaeological Research:

The Original Humboldt Committee contacted Western Heritage - an archaeological consulting firm based out of Saskatoon, to research the Original Humboldt land, through excavation and geophysics work. Excavations have focused on features identified during geophysical surveys and include the locations of the original telegraph station, the remains of fortifications, an officers' refuse pit and a large hearth feature. Geophysical studies have also shown extensive areas of cultural alterations to the landscape, which will be investigated in coming years. A high-resolution aerial map was completed in the summer of 2013 to aid with identifying cultural features. 

Recently, Aeryon Labs Inc. completed a sUAS (small unmanned aerial system) survey of the Original Humboldt site in conjunction with Western Heritage, producing highly detailed aerial maps of the site. Check out the amazing work done in the article on their blog.

Methods:

A variety of archaeological methods are used to determine specific locations of interest in which to excavate. Some of the methods used at Original Humboldt are surface surveys, ground penetrating radar, magnetic resistivity, magnetometry and contour mapping. Through the use of these methods we are beginning to gain insight into the extent of the historic features.

Public Archaeology:

Since 2009, the Original Humboldt committee and the archaeology team from Western Heritage have done initial excavation and research at the telegraph station area and the 1885 military area. Further excavations are planned which will reveal additional information about the history of the site. Public archaeology is open to everyone and no experience is required to help. Contact the museum if you are interested in volunteering.

 

Founding of Original Humboldt

The Original Humboldt committee was formed in 2008 by Dennis Korte and Edward Novecosky with the goal of securing, preserving and developing the Original Humboldt site, due to its historic significance. The committee expanded under the auspices of the Humboldt and District Museum and Gallery to include Rev. Alvin Hingley, Garry Jenkins, Reynold Fortowsky, Department of Cultural Services Director Jennifer Fitzpatrick, and Museum Supervisor Jean Price.

The Original Humboldt site is a scenic 80 acres of land located 8 kilometers southwest of Humboldt where the original Humboldt Telegraph Station was built in 1878. The significance of the land is multifaceted, as it played an important role in the national story of communications, transportation, 1885 NorthWest Resistance, First Nations relations and the settlement of Saskatchewan.

On April 30, 2009 the Original Humboldt committee announced that this historic land had been purchased, and presented the land as a gift to the City of Humboldt, who have assumed ownership of this property. The land purchase was made possible by private donations of people who believed in the vision of the project and recognized the significance of this land to the community. The site was designated as Municipal Heritage Property by the R.M. of Humboldt in June 2009.

Governor General's History Award for Excellence in Museums: History Alive! Honourable Mention

Congratulations to the Original Humboldt Committee for receiving an honourable mention for the 2013 Governor General's History Award for Excellence in Museums: History Alive! 

The goal of the History Alive! award is to honour significant achievement in the historical field and encourage standards of excellence specifically in the presentation, preservation and interpretation of national, regional or local history.

 

Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan Heritage Architecture Awards of Excellence Winner

Congratulations to the Original Humboldt Committee for their award at the June 11, 2014 event at Government House in Regina in the category of Education, Signage, Monuments and Interpretation. This award recognizes the work of the committee in providing community engagement and increasing awareness of the site through interpretive panels, art installations and special events. 

 

Trails of 1885

Original Humboldt is part of the Trails of 1885 program of sites and events commemorating the 1885 Resistance. This incredible story is told at numerous sites throughout Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta. For further information about the Trails of 1885 project, visit the Trails of 1885 web site.

Trails of 1885 logo

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sponsorship and Partnership

We would appreciate any assistance in this project. Please consider becoming involved in this exciting community initiative by making a charitable contribution to the project. If you would like to inquire about the possibility of partnering with Original Humboldt, please contact the museum for information on projects in development for this site. If you would like to make a donation, you may send your cheque, payable to the City of Humboldt to:

Original Humboldt
c/o Humboldt and District Museum and Gallery
Box 2349
Humboldt, SK
S0K 2A0