MTM: Dunvegan Provincial Park

Peace River Valley at Dunvegan (North side)

Flickr photo by: Skylinejunkie

Dunvegan Park! Just the name brings back memories of day trips and picnics, hot sun beating down on our (still blonde) heads. Climbing the hill on the other side of the hwy, because we were following our older brothers and cousins who were much more adventurous than us girls. Of course, one of them then had to go get dad, because we couldn't/wouldn't go down by ourselves. It was steep! I think I was 6 or 7 and Sis would have been just a little bit older.

Yeah, as an adult, it looks really tame now. This is not exactly where we climbed, but the only photo I could find. For some reason I have only two photos that I can say for sure are Dunvegan and as an adult, I drove over that bridge at least six times a month for fours years. I suppose you get complacent about things you see all the time. I always marveled at the beauty, but didn't often stop to take the photo.

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I was raised in Grande Prairie and then I worked in Peace River for four years. I would usually go home on my days off which meant driving through this valley. Trust me in winter those hills can be scary as hell. I worked shift work and would leave at 08.00 after my night shift was over. It takes about an hour to get to the bridge and one fall morning, it was crisp and clear as a bell, which experience has taught me will mean fog in the river valley. The area on both sides of the valley is fairly flat & you can see for miles, but just before the valley there is a little rise in the ground before you head downhill. I came over the rise that morning to see the entire river valley shrouded in fog from bank to bank and yet clear all the way across the top. It was as though the valley had been filled in with cotton and you could drive right over it to the other side. About half way down the hill, you broke out of the fog and it was clear again until half way up the other side. It was, I think the most surreal driving experience I have had in my life.

Another photo again from the North side, but in summer.

Flickr photo by: Little Black Sheep's Photos

Enough reminiscing, Dunvegan Provincial Park is an historical site. It was a fur trading post and mission site and one of the most significant sites on the Peace River.

The site of one of Alberta's earliest fur trade posts and missionary centres dating back to 1805. The Beaver Indians were some of the earliest inhabitants of the area with the first European explorers passing through in the 1700's. In 1805, Archibald Norman Macleod established a trading post naming it Fort Dunvegan, after his family's ancestral castle in Scotland. Dunvegan became a Hudson Bay Company post and operated until 1918. The Factor's House and the St. Charles Rectory and Church (1867) are the only two buildings remaining from that time.

Here and here are short articles about life and the history of the Fort at Dunvegan. This is a bit about the history of the Metis in the area and their relations with the Fort. (I am not sure if that word is commonly used elsewhere, Metis is a French word for mixed blood Indian.)

The demise of the Fort at Dunvegan came about by the establishment of trade at the town site of Peace River which sits at the junction of the Peace River and the Heart River. Dunvegan then became know for the market gardens that had been established during the days of being a Fort.

When we were kids being rescued off of hills, it was much less evolved than it is now. Now they have interpretive actors and guided tours. They have walking trails and campsites (it used to be day use only), boat launches have been upgraded and they have added some other amenities.

And yes, that is a suspension bridge you see in those photos. It is in fact the only suspension bridge in Alberta for automobiles. It replaced the ferry in 1960 and spans 2375 feet and is the fourth largest suspension bridge in Canada.

There have also been dinosaur tracks found along the banks of the river there.

One day, I will have to get back there and take some more photos, in the mean time click on the links and see the church and the beautiful painting inside. This one has great shots of the church.

Have a good day all.

My Town Monday is the invention of Travis Erwin, if you would like to read more about places all over the world drop by and click on all the many links.


Jay said...

Beautiful scenery. And that open, winding road looks like it would be fun to drive in a car that handles really great.

Barbara Martin said...

My mother taught grades 1-12, in a one room school house, up in the Peace River country in the mid-1930s. My oldest brother was born in North Star (which he would as soon forget). I have a black and white photo of the old bridge across the Peace River, yet the scene looks almost the same.

Thanks for a trip down memory lane for me too.

Reb said...

Jay, that road is wonderful in the summer, beautifully banked on the curves.

Barbara, I would imagine that North Star hasn't changed all that much and that should be the same bridge. Unless you are thinking the one at Peace River Town.

the Bag Lady said...

Great post, Reb!
You should have asked me - I have some photos from Dunvegan (some old ones from when we were kids and some newer ones, too!)
I remember all too well being stuck on that hill. Poor Dad. Good thing he was in good shape! :)

Anonymous said...

Incredible colors on that first pic! I think the hillside STILL looks steep (at least, that is what my knees are telling me to say!) so I can see why your dad had to help out. ;)

I love reading & seeing your MTMs each week.

Leah J. Utas said...

Reb, that was wonderful.
I haven't seen Dunvegan in close to 40 years.
Descending in to and then out of the fog sounds both magnficent and very, very weird.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I still can't go down big hills by myself. What a different terrain. Lovely.

Clare2e said...

So beautiful, Reb! In California, I drove through weird pea soup fog like that along the shore. And it felt deadly, because you couldn't see anyone or anything ahead of you, but it also felt so deceptively fluffy and cocooning.

Thanks for sharing the pics,and I always love the history thrown in. In CA, Mexico, and further south, they're called Mestizos, the related Spanish word for mixed native and European ancestry.

Travis Erwin said...

Beautiful bridge. That is one thing we do not have in my area. Not enough water to need them.

Gary Rith Pottery Blog said...


Hilary said...

You described the fog so well - I could so easily imagine it. What a beautiful experience to remember. Lovely photos and memories.

Reb said...

Sis, I should have asked you. I figured if I didn't have them you must - just a brain fart I guess. You'll have to do your own post about it I suppose.

Kcinnova, yes, it is a very beautiful area. I am certain my knees wouldn't make the climb now.

Leah, I think '86 would have been the last time I was there. The fog was so very weird and beautiful.

Patti, I was able to in my 20's, but alas my knees won't let me anymore. It is very pretty there.

Clare, I know what you mean about the fog, I love to walk in it, but would rather not drive in it.

Travis, it is a beautiful bridge. Sorry to hear you don't have many there.

Gary, it is somewhat, but if you zoom in on the map, you see that there are lots of towns in the area.

Thanks Hilary, it was a beautiful and weird day.

lyzzydee said...

The scenery is spectacular.

debra said...

what an amazingly wonderfully beautiful place!!!!

Reb said...

Lyzzydee, it is very pretty there.

Debra, it is all of those things and more.

The Anti-Wife said...

Beautiful scenery and great descriptions - especially of the fog.

Reb said...

Hello Anti-wife and thanks!

Kwisk said...

Ahh Dunvegan Bridge. I remember the ferry in use before the bridge. Two buses would show up and take up most of the ferry and you would be sitting on the bank waiting forever.
Anyway beautiful country, would love to go back there some day.

Reb said...

Thanks for stopping by Kwisk. It is a beautiful area.