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, a plaque commemorating the presence of the Governor General's Horse Guards, as well as installations telling the stories 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.
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.
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. This area continues to evolve to share the stories of the land. New storyboards have been added and changed, and a new plaque recognising the presence of the Governor General's Horse Guards has been added.
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. In 2017, representations of three bell tents were also added to the military area of the site.
Storyboards and Métis Flag - In the summer of 2014 the interpretive storyboards for the Red River Cart and the telegraph cabin were installed, and the flag of the Métis Nation, donated by Métis President, Robert Doucette began to be flown beside the Red River Cart.
Thank you to the Whitecap Dakota First Nation for their partnership in presenting the story of Chief Whitecap at the Original Humboldt site. Thanks also to the Governor Generals’ Horse Guards for their partnership in presenting the story of the Guards and the Memorial Plaque.
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.
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.
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.
We appreciate the funding of the 2017 program from the Trails of 1885 and Western Economic Diversification Canada.
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:
c/o Humboldt and District Museum and Gallery