What was Christmas like in Fort Saskatchewan over 140 years ago?
While the Fort's first Christmas in 1875 isn't documented, a journal entry by Fred Bagley a year later highlights some of the festivities.
According to officials from the Fort Heritage Precinct, Bagley was one of the original 20 North West Mounted Police (NWMP) members to start the area's fort. Bagley would've arrived at the same time as Inspector William D. Jarvis.
"He (Bagley) was the youngest recruit in the NWMP. He joined at the age of 15. You actually had to be 21 to join, but Fred's father was friends with the commissioner, so he convinced him to allow him to join. He was also the first trumpeter in the NWMP," said Kyle Bjornson, curator at the Fort Heritage Precinct.
In the entry dated Dec. 25, 1876, Bagley highlighted a show put on by the "A" Troop "Minstrels".
"He said it went off very well. There were 110 people in the audience."
Dr. Newton, Mr. Brereton, and Miss Hodgins were some of those in attendance.
Afterward, it was time to party with a hoedown. Which was pretty common during the holidays.
"They invited people from far and wide. From Edmonton, St. Albert, Indigenous and Metis people as well who would've come feasted, celebrated and danced all night."
The area wouldn't have been more than the wooden walls making up the fort at the time. Some of the structures inside included stables, a guard house, kitchen, barracks, officers' quarters and some other unidentified structures. There would've been more structures on the Lamoureux settlement across the river.
Members of the force got into the Christmas spirit by sprucing up their barracks with evergreen bows, bunting, carbines, and pistols to make festive displays.
"That was to get as close as they could to their home life that they were missing," concluded Bjornson.