Fort Providence, NWT.

The following outline of the history of Fort Providence was compiled and contributed by Joachim P. Bonnetroug, Project Coordinator for the Fort Providence Residential School Society – Healing Project.


An Outline of the History of Fort Providence

Historically, the people of Fort Providence have come from nine different tribes or clans:
- the Red Knife clan,
- the Mink Lake clan,
- the Moose Point clan,
- the Echaot'i (land of the giants people),
- the Horn River people,
- the Big Point (Edah Cho) people,
- Jack Fish Point people.

The largest Dene tribe in this area was known as 'the river people' who are now known as 'Deh Gah Got'ie' Dene.

According to contemporary historians, the earliest established community of "Providence" was located on the North Arm of Great Slave Lake, East Great Slave Lake near Fort Rae during the time of fur trader Peter Pond.

A second community of "Providence", known as old Fort Providence, is located at Big Island, 60 miles upstream of the present day community, and was established during the early 1800's by the first missionaries to arrive in the area.

The present day community of Fort Providence was established by missionaries in the mid -1800's. An orphanage/mission was started by sisters in 1859.

The last big gathering at Red Knife by Dene tribes took place in 1918. Evidence of a significant tea dance circle, used during a spiritual gathering, is still present to this day.

A brief overview of modern historical events follows:
1921: A treaty party arrived in Fort Providence, and Paul Lefoin was recognized as Chief,
1928: A flu epidemic hit the Dene - an estimated 600 people were lost,
1930: A new mission school, the Sacred Heart Mission, was built,
1940: The American Army situates its base at Axe Point,
1958: Slashing began for construction of the Highway to Yellowknife,
1959: A Federal Day School was built,
1960: Sacred Heart Mission School shuts down and is converted to a Nursing Station,
1968: Myhrens opens a bar across from the ferry landing,
1970: Queen Elizabeth II comes to Providence to start a Canoe Race to Inuvik. hosted by Chief Vital Bonnetrouge.

Back to Stations page

Back to Fort Providence page

Back to top of page

Click here for Jean Watts' account of life in Fort Providence in 1948