The park and Interpretive Centre are open to the public from May to October each year. During our opening season Fort Normandeau is a great place to explore Red Deer’s rich cultural history.
We offer an extensive program of natural and human history interpretation, environmental education, special events, school, youth group and public programs, rafting trips, sleepovers and day camps. There are extensive permanent and temporary exhibits and interpretive signs, school programs, family events, courses, and much more.
Before the railway connected Edmonton and Calgary in 1893, the Red Deer River Crossing was the gateway between northern and southern Alberta. The native people knew it as the safest river crossing point for a long way upstream or downstream. In 1884 Robert McClellan built a stopping house at the crossing to take advantage of the traffic on the Calgary & Edmonton Trail.
The next year, with the settlers afraid of violence during the Riel Rebellion, his hotel was fortified by the 65th Mount Royal Rifles under the command of Lt. J.E.Bedard Normandeau. Today the Crossing and its fort commemorate the First Nations, Metis, and European people who influenced the development of today’s central Alberta.