Before the days of waiting for a new Highway 15 bridge to cross the North Saskatchewan River, residents had to rely on a ferry. 

The old Fort Saskatchewan ferry has an interesting place in the community's history, with tales of tragedy and outrage sprinkled throughout its story. 

Things first started around 1874.

"Around the time the Northwest Mounted Police arrived the only way to cross the North Saskatchewan River, if you were coming from Edmonton on the old fort trail, was by a small boat," said Kyle Bjornson, the curator at the Fort Sask Precinct.

Joseph and Frank Lamoureux were the first to actually help people across the river in a small boat. While it worked for helping small groups of people traverse the water, there were some obvious downsides. 

"That could only take a few people over at a time, it couldn't take horses, wagons, or anything like that," said Bjornson. 

That started to change in 1882, as plans began to have a cable and regular ferry be stationed over the river. 

A few years would pass, along with multiple ferry scows that were damaged and needed replacements, but in 1888 the Lamoureux brothers won the exclusive rights to ferry in Fort Saskatchewan. 

"[The Northwest Territories Council] auctioned off the exclusive rights," said Bjornson. "[Joseph Lamoureux] secured the license for $150, so he built a new scow." 

To add context, Lamoureux's winning bid would be about $3700 today. 

However, when they attempted to transport the scow up the river it once again broke, forcing them to build yet another scow. 

It took a few more years before, finally, in 1893, the ferry was operational in Fort Saskatchewan. The price to get across sat at 50 cents, which would be equal to about $12 in 2023. 

"There was lots of grumbling by the community about the cost," said Bjornson. "There would be some efforts to lower the fees over the years." 

One of the most exciting, yet tragic, moments in the ferry's history was a major accident that occurred in 1894. 

"Two teams were loaded with brick and lumber, and they had five loose horses on the scow," said Bjornson. "They sank in seven feet of water." 

"Fortunately, everyone made it to the shore alive other than one horse that drowned."

Public unrest about the price of the ferry seemed to come to a head in 1897, when F. Fraser Tims, a member of the North-West Territories Council, moved to take action. 

"He negotiated a deal with Joseph Lamoureux to get a cheaper fare, so by 1897 it was practically free," said Bjornson. "Lamoureux lost the franchise around that time and a local committee was formed to supervise the ferry." 

In 1903, more unrest about the ferry cost caused operations to be moved to the town of Fort Saskatchewan. 

"When the town took over, they made it free and also made it run 24 hours," said Bjornson. "They had two ferrymen who were supposed to be available 24 hours for people to cross." 

"However, people were still complaining still about the ferrymen taking their meals and delaying the ferry." 

It wasn't long before a CN Rail came to the community in 1905 and built a concrete bridge over the river, rendering the ferry useless. 

The last year of the ferry is not exactly known, but by examining the fees that were collected by the town, it appears the ferry's last year was 1907.