The Fort Heritage Precinct tells an unsettling story.
In the late 1800s, a Cree man named KaKiSiKutchin (more commonly known as Swift Runner), was executed in Fort Saskatchewan after brutally killing and eating his family.
"He took his family hunting and trapping for the remainder of the winter, which was pretty common. He was accompanied by his wife Charlotte, their five children, his mother-in-law and his brother," explained Kyle Bjornson, curator at the Fort Heritage Precinct.
In the spring, he returned to the Roman Catholic Mission in St. Albert, saying the winter had been harsh and his entire family died of starvation. Despite this, Father Leduc, a priest there, had his suspicions due to the healthy condition Swift Runner seemed to be in.
An investigation was launched, during which Swift Runner confessed "the evil spirit of the Windigo" had been tormenting him in his dreams.
"In Cree mythology, if the Windigo possesses a person, it turns their heart to ice and causes them to hunger after human flesh," Bjornson added.
It was then that the North-West Mounted Police (NWMP) went to his camp, discovering the bodies of his family members, which had been brutally mutilated.
"He was actually quite a charming man, the constables here at the fort actually came to quite like him, supposedly."
He was hanged at the Fort Saskatchewan North-West Mounted Police Fort, an event that about 60 spectators came to watch. According to Bjornson, the NWMP could not be persuaded to do the deed, so an older man from the crowd was the hangman.
This was the first execution at the Fort Saskatchewan North-west Mounted Police Fort.