Red Deer began as a river crossing. Before the railway connected Edmonton and Calgary, Red Deer River Crossing was the gateway between Northern and Southern Alberta. From time immemorial, First Nations and later Metis People followed the wildlife over the ford at Red Deer Crossing. In 1884, a stopping house was built next to the river crossing and in 1885 during the Riel Rebellion the structure was fortified by the 65th Mount Royal Rifles under the command of Lt. J.E.Bedard Normandeau. You can still visit the historic crossing site and see the recreated Fort Normandeau, which was built using salvaged logs from the original fort.
Today Red Deer is the third largest city in Alberta, but no matter how big we grow we’ve never forgotten where we came from. Every year during Fort Normandeau Days, we celebrate our humble beginnings with an entire weekend of fun. Highlights include re-enactments of 1885-era military skirmishes, period food, craft displays, children’s games and First Nations ceremonies and dancing.
Fun to Explore
Red Deer has a wealth of historic and cultural sites that are fascinating and fun to explore. Take the kids and grandkids to Sunnybrook Farm Museum to meet the farm animals and see how pioneer families lived. Enjoy afternoon tea at Cronquist House, a Victorian-style farmhouse near beautiful Bower Ponds. Inspire your passion for history and art at the Red Deer Museum & Art Gallery (MAG) as you explore the historical displays of Remarkable Red Deer and visit the ever changing exhibits in the art gallery.
There is a vast array of unique historic and cultural sites in Central Alberta. Discover what life was like for the immigrants who settled this region at Red Deer’s Norwegian Laft Hus Museum or by taking a drive along Red Deer County’s Scandinavian Trail. The history and stories of Danish and Icelandic settlers come alive at sites like the Markerville Creamery Museum and Stephansson House, the home of one of Canada’s greatest poets.