Peter Pond newsletter :: August 2002 :: PP Cairn

Peter Pond Society editor Bill McDonald
Peter Pond Society editor Bill McDonald


The orignal cairn honoring Peter Pond outside of Prince Albert was mentioned in Newsletter 1 (May, 2000) as follows.

The cairn honoring Pond that sits along the North Branch of the Saskatchewan River outside of Prince Albert, SK has been removed. Why? Because the Batoche National Historic Site that oversees the area had to save it from the encroaching river. Someone I know in Prince Albert tipped me off, and I recently got confirmation from the Batoche official in the following email:

"Mr. McDonald,
The cairn was removed from the site last fall. Continual river erosion to the bank has resulted in a substantial loss of the site itself. Discussion with the City of Prince Albert to relocate the plaque commemorating Peter Pond have started.

Flo Miller
Site Manager, Batoche."

So, apparently the cairn itself is no longer, but the plaque will be relocated someplace else. I find this fascinating, since rivers have played such a big part in Pond's history. First, rivers are what conveyed him to this spot in the first place to trade with Indians, then pool goods amongst other traders and be the first white man over Methye Portage and into history in 1778. O.C. Furniss of University of Saskatchwan, when he found evidence of the Pond encampment in 1942 leading to a cairn being erected in 1950, did so with the river's help. Old narratives said Pond's house was on the Saskatchewan about 1/8 mile from the mouth of the Sturgeon River. When he first started looking 1/8 mile from the Sturgeon, he found nothing. But then from a plane he saw river action had placed the mouth of the Sturgeon at two different locations east of its current site over the years. So Furniss paced off from the most easterly former location and sure enough found what he was after. After digging three or four feet down, he found flat hearthstones arranged in semi-circular shape identical to other fireplaces of other old trading camps found in the past. Digging through a layer of old sandy silt showed this had been flooded before. And now, in the year 2000, the river was trying to reclaim the cairn itself. (Source: "Some notes on newly discovered fur posts on the Saskatchewan River," Canadian Historical Review, XXIV, No. 3, Sept. 1943.)


This is the plaque (English and French text) set on a pyramid cairn just outside Prince Albert, SK, on the north branch of the Saskatchewan River. As of Summer 2000, city and federal federal officials were searching for a new site for the plaque due to river incursion. English text reads:

"Peter Pond, 1740-1807. In the spring of 1778 a group of Canadian traders who had wintered at a post on this site pooled their remaining stock of trade goods and sent one of their number, Peter Pond, into the Athabasca country, thereby opening one of the richest fur areas on the continent. Pond was one of the original partners of the North West Company until his implication in two murders forced him to withdraw from the trade and retire to his native Connecticut in 1790. His discoveries and geographical theories had a profound influence on the explorations of Alexander Mackenzie who succeeded him in Athabasca."

Peter Pond Society society charter member Peter Long, a Virginia resident who summers in Saskatchewan went and found the new cairn. By the date on the bottom of the photo you can see it was installed in 2001. Thanks again Peter!

Au revoir,