Alberta’s Victoria Settlement: Still a Special Place after 150 Years

The year 2012 marks the 150thanniversary of Alberta’s Victoria Settlement. In 1862 Methodist minister George McDougall established a mission at the “Hairy Bag” a buffalo feeding ground north of the North Saskatchewan River which was a favourite meeting place and camping site for Aboriginal peoples for thousands of years. The mission was named Victoria in honour of the reigning British monarch. The Hudson’s Bay Company soon noted the activity of free traders in the vicinity and the large numbers of Aboriginals gathering at the mission and established Fort Victoria in 1864, a post which operated for more than three decades.

Clerk’s quarters and trading shop at Fort Victoria, c. 1890. Provincial Archives of Alberta B.2406.

The mission and trading post attracted several hundred English-speaking Métis (historically known as Mixed-bloods) from the Red River Settlement, in what is now Manitoba, who established a permanent river lot settlement at Victoria. The river lot system was based upon the seigneurial system of New France. It consisted of long narrow river-front lots that provided all settlers river access for transportation and agricultural needs. Combining agriculture with the traditional buffalo hunt, a prosperous community of missionaries, fur traders, settlers and Cree hunters developed. In 1887, when the community established its first post office, it was named Pakan in honour of local Cree chief, James Seenum or “Pakannuk”, in tribute to his leadership during the 1885 Rebellion. During the 1890s, settlement in the district expanded as hundreds of Ukrainian and other European settlers took up homesteads. The community thrived as a commercial and service centre until 1918 when the Canadian Northern Railway line was established north of the settlement at Smoky Lake.

Fort Victoria was designated a Provincial Historic Resource in 1976, ensuring that Victoria Settlement’s historical ties to Alberta’s First Nations, Métis and Ukrainian settlers and it’s associations with the fur trade, mission and homestead history are conserved for the benefit of all Albertans. This site is interpreted as the Victoria Settlement Provincial Historic Site. It includes the Hudson’s Bay Company Clerk’s Quarters built in 1865, Alberta’s oldest structure remaining on its original location and the 1906 Pakan Methodist Church.

In 2001, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada commemorated the area as the Victoria Settlement National Historic Site of Canada. Its highly visible and physical attributes represent an exceptional illustration in a concentrated area of major themes in Prairie settlement including the development of the fur trade, the establishment of the Métis river lot system, the arrival of missions, Prairie agricultural development and the establishment of eastern European immigrants at the beginning of the 20th century. The national designation along the old Victoria Trail includes the Lobstick Settlement to the west, the Victoria (Pakan) Settlement to the east, and a Ukrainian settlement area to the north.

Main (Free Trader’s) House at River Lot 3, Victoria Settlement Provincial Historic Resource

Historical points of interest in the National Historic Site include the site of the McDougall Mission, the McGillivray House originally located on River Lot 7 but currently found on River Lot 3, which is also designated as a Provincial Historic Resource and the Anderson House, a Municipal Historic Resource on River Lot 14 of the Lobstick Settlement. Other resources from the Settlement have been moved: the Erasmus House is currently displayed at Fort Edmonton Park, while the Sinclair House which for many years functioned as the Pakan Museum on the Mitchell property at River Lot 7 is currently displayed at Metis Crossing along with the Cromarty House from River Lot 12.

Written by: Peter Melnycky, Historian

Victoria Settlement Gathering 2-01


  1. I can’t believe I found this site. My mother lived in the last remaining house in the Victoria settlement, which appears by the description on this site, to be the Sinclair residence, now displayed at Metis Crossing. My mother is Kathleen Gwendoline Mitchell, soon to be 93, and living in Powell River, BC. Her father, James Alexander Mitchell, acted as the postmaster in Pakan for some tears. My mother and I are Metis, and are descended from Carolyn and Samuel Whitford. I have been trying to find a book written about the Victoria Settlement – I know there is one – to give to my mother. It’s been 51 years since I have been to Pakan in 1960. I hope to get back for a visit. Next year would be appropriate, on the 150th anniversary.
    Any advice on the whereabouts of the book I am looking for?

    1. Hello Joseph,
      Thank you for your comment. It is wonderful to hear that this post has a personal connection. The author of this post, Peter Melnycky, is going to contact you directly to suggest some reading material, etc.

    2. My grandfather Gordon Alan Mitchell was one of James’ brothers. The other brother was Frank. I know that one of their sons (Harold) lived on a farm at the site for many years. We used to visit there and at the old historic house, as either James or Frank was still living there at the time.

  2. I would love some information as well for my dad, his great grandfather was Charles Adams, a former clerk in the settlement. Thank you.

    1. Hi Kathryn, Thank you for your message. The author of the article is going to contact you directly to discuss information on the Victoria Settlement.

  3. Hello
    Thank you for the wonderful article. My Great Grandparents William and Sarah (nee Whitford) NORN moved to Pakan in the 1860s and both passed away there.
    I would love to purchase a copy of Mr. Melnycky’s book A Veritable Canaan: Alberta’s Victoria Settlement. Are copies available?
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Shirley, Thank you for your comment and for sharing a bit of your family history. I will look into how you may get a copy of A Veritable Canaan and get back to you soon.

      1. Dear Brenda, Read your post. My mother, Kathleen Mitchell, lived in Pakan in the HBC Clerk’s Quarters with her parents, James Alexander Mitchell and Evelyn Maude Mitchell (nee’ Diamond). I also have Whitford’s in my family tree back to the Red River community. Carolyn Whitford is my great grandmother and Samuel Whitford is my great-great grandfather. I have the book you spoke of by Mr. Melnycky. I emailed him for a copy last year and he sent one, in exchange for information on my genealogical connection to the Victoria Settlement.

        Date: Tue, 4 Sep 2012 15:09:02 +0000 To:

      2. Hi Joe, I am so glad that you were able to get a copy of Peter Melnycky’s book – I trust that you found it to be an interesting read.

    2. Hi Shirley, the author of the book has just returned to the office from a vacation – he has indicated that he will be in touch shortly so that you may obtain a copy of the book.

    3. Brenda, with all the information Peter Melnycky has been collecting on individual families, will he write another book at some point focusing on the metis period maybe even the introduction of specific Ukrainians or others putting detail to the family names and the roles they had, and how the metis and newcomers got along (ie stories say the Metis and Ukrainian women helped one another).

      To Joseph and Shirley, who are of Whitford decsent, I am involved in the designation and protection of the “House In The Middle of the Road” also known as the Whitford House and Anderson House located in Lobstick settlement where you may know some history about your great grandparents. In addition, riverlot 17, where I live contains a log house built by a whitford, though one wouldn’t recognize it since the outside has a stucco coating. Were either of you related to Simon or Francis Whitford?

      1. Hi Noreen – thank you for your message! I have forwarded it to Peter so that he is aware that there is interest out there for additional research/publications. I hope Joseph and Shirley respond to your questions – it would be great if this blog were to be used to connect people with similar interests and research objectives.

      2. I am very interested in the book as well – would love to purchase. My Grandmother, her sister and parents were residents of Lobstick. Leopold Perras (G.Gr.father) was issued Lot 2 in and around 1905. We are missing information on this part of the family and looking for further info, on the area etc. Leopold is known to be Metis, would love to learn more about the Metis settlement>

      3. Thank you, Tracey, for your comment. I have spoken with Peter Melnycky and he will contact you shortly to follow up on your request. Cheers!

      4. HI Noreen I am a descendant of Simon Whitford 1826 – 14 May 1903 Lobstick & Francoise Hope 1855 – bef Jun in 1906 the original home builder on river lot 15 -the house in the road-.

    4. hello
      I havbe been searching my great grand parents William and Sarah (nee Whitford) and my grandfather Percy gullion for the last few years. I would be so grateful if you had any information you could pass on to me. I was born in Canada and live in Australia.
      Thank you

      1. hi linda
        I have info on the family to a degree. Percy Harland Goulash a Welsh by birth was adopted by William Gullion & Sarah Whitford when his family including a twin Ralph were immigrating from Wales to British Columbia in the Victoria BC area. As his family passed through the area he became extremely ill and the weather too inclement for his prospects so William & Sarah were asked/offered to care for him. The never was a reunion of the twins to my knowledge although the western raised twin was aware of his brother and sought him out.
        Percy had a cousin named George and they had more cousins in California.
        William & Sarah married 20 May 1908 at Ft Saskatchewan, Alberta, Canada(however it was just registered there and transpired at Andrew or Pakan). Some speculation of an illegitimate daughter of William with unknown named Josette Lillian born 1919.
        William born 19 April 1882 Ft Edmonton NWT 23 Nov 1969 Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
        s\o James Ingram Gullion 1837 of Eaday Ornkney & Flora Fraser 1845 of Ft Edmonton, NWT
        Sarah Whitford born 23oct 1883 Pakan, NWT died after 1969 Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
        d\o Simon Whitford 1826 RRS & Francoise Hope 1855 LLB

        The family left Percy when he was about 1 year old. There should be immigration records and given there were twins and you now have more details to pursue. I have not searched immigration records so cant be much help there. Ralph his twin went by last name Lee.


      2. Hello Linda.

        My grandmother, Caroline Gullion, was one of William’s sisters. He had 9 brothers and sisters. If you are interested, I have a newspaper interview with him from 1961 (accompanied with a photo) and also a photo of him and Sarah and my grandmother Caroline. Also have copies of obituaries for William and Sarah, etc. My e-mail address is
        Carole Tyson-Flyn

      3. Linda,

        I would be really interested in talking to you about Percy Gullion, as I read these posts I believe he is also my grandfather. I am here in Canada and would definitely appreciate if you could email me.

  4. Hi Noreen
    My G2 Grandmother Sarah Norn (nee Whitford) had a brother named Francis born 1835. I need to do more research to determine if he is the Francis you mention. Sarah’s father James Whitford had a brother named Peter who had a son named Simon (born 1826, died 1903 at VS/Pakan) but I have very little info about them. William and Sarah resided at river lot 14. I have found their homestead docs – processed years after the passing of William. The search continues! I like your suggestion of another book by Peter Melnycky!

    1. A note or two about Francis Whitford died 6 Sep 1883 buried Ft Edmonton Garveyard married to Jane Anderson born 1843 RRS a sister of John Anderson at lot 3 and who also resided at Pakan for a few early years of the 1870’s. Peter Whitford born Jun1894 Swan River, RPTLD died 16 Apr 1883 Pakan, NWT & Christiana Spence born 1804 Ft Vermillion, NWT died about 1877 Pakan, NWT and Simon Whitford born 10 Mar 1826 Ft Garry, RPTLD died 16 Apr 1903 Lobstick lot 15 married 1. Maria Spence 1830 RRS -1862 PLP, RPTLD 2. Francoise Hope born 17 Feb 1855 LLB, NWT – 1906 Lobstick lot 15. Their son Frederick Whitford born 23 JUn1876 Prince Albert, NWT died 7 Feb 1945 Spedden, Alberta, Canada married Catherine Anderson born 2 Aug 1882 Prince Albert, NWT died 25 Jan 1958 Redwater, Alberta, Canada. The Whitford/Anderson house is called so because it passed succession from Whitford’s to Anderson’s in 1912.

      1. I know there were a lot of people with the same name and it causes confusion. Wasn’t there a Francis Whitford who died in 1912 and passed on the property of Lobstick riverlot 14 to Henry Anderson and James Favell. recorded in documents and shows Francis Whitford was the owner in 1906 which Simon originally claimed. Was Peter born in 1796? Do you know what year the Whitford/Anderson House was built?

      2. Hi Steven, I’m trying to put everything in line. Please bear with me. From what you said on another piece you wrote, enumeration took place in 1901 where Catherine and Fred and their family lived in a house beside Simon and Francoise. Were these houses both on riverlot 14 or was one on riverlot 15; and if Simon and Francoise were on riverlot 15, how did Francoise pass along a house on riverlot 14 since that is where the house in the middle of the road is located?
        How do we know which house is still standing?

  5. I am researching my family history as well, and wonder if the name Nancy Howse or Charles James Hogan have come up. I am also related to a Whitford family, however, I am not sure if the same family. My great grandmother Nancy Howse was in Pakan in her early years and I am trying to research her ancestry. If anyone can help me, please advise. I would also love to have a copy of the book by Peter Melnycky and would be interested to know if he is aware of these names. Thank you …

    1. Hi Lauren The only Nancy Howse I have from Pakan was born 26 May 1890 d/o Thomas Henry House born 1859 PLP, RPTLD died 2 Nov 1935 Pakan, Alberta, Canada & Eliza ?? born 18 Apr 1864 Ft Victoria died unknown. This Nancy marries and Edward Gladu but I have no further information.

  6. Hi Peter: This post has generated a lot of interest and unfortunately a lot of speculation which can be corrected by the family information relative to the Whitford/Anderson house. The original builder of this house was Simon Whitford b.1826 son of Peter Whitford b.1796 who had a small house at Ft Victoria from the 1850’s when Peter and Peter Erasmus gold panned on the river there. Peter Whtiford and his brother James Whitford b.1795 were posted with HBCo. at White Earth Creek opposite of Ft Augustus for approximately 4 years from 1809 -1813 and had intimate knowledge of the area. James Whitford has been recorded as an acknowledged leader of the Scots/English metis or The Company Indians as they were called then. James returned to the area after the failed 1869 metis assertion and parted company from it after Scott’s execution. When research is done on the graveyard it reveals that the metis and Indian families resident in the area were related by marriage and were largely an extension of the James and Peter Whitford families and their children married families. James Mitchell`s map show`s the old house built by Peter Whitford in Pakan of
    Simon Whitford had been married into the Spence clan but when his wife died in the early 1860’s in Portage la Prairie Simon and his family joined others who had come to the area. In 1871 Simon married a widow of Jean Baptiste Cardinal d1870 of the Littlehunter Band named Francoise Hope b.1855 and adopted her young son James Cardinal.b.1870
    A headman of the Littlehunter Band named Muskegwahtik(Medicine Stick) d. 1885 had a reserve located just to the west of the Lobstick Settlement at Wahsatnow(Cuthill) Creek where Francoise resided. Simon and his family resided at the house from at least the early 1890`s. In 1881 the family was enumerated at enumerated there and expressed such residence in script affidavits which followed Francoise`s expulsion from treaty following the rebellion.
    In 1901 the Whitford family was enumerated at the Lobstick house with the son Frederick Whitford b.1876 and his wife Catherine Anderson born 1884 living beside Simon Whitford and his wife Francoise and daughter Sarah b.1883 and son Ray Edgar b. 1897. There has been a suggestion that the ruins of the old livery stable were the original house but there may have been a house built prior to this one of the 1890’s. In 1903 Simon died aged 76 years and Francoise died in 1906 prior to the census and their children inherited the house and liquidated the state hence the title transfer in 1906. Francoise is the Francis Whitford of the title transfer document. My grandfather Allen Curtis b. 1902 the eldest surviving child of Fred and Catherine was born in the house along with five other siblings. Catherine`s father John Micheal Anderson b.1851 was resident with Fred & Catherine now family household heads and Ray E enumerated with their family in 1906. The house which is called the Whitford/Anderson house was built by the family of Simon Whitford and not later settlers as has been suggested. My grandfather Allen Whitford travelled with my father to the house prior to his death in 1982 to rediscover his youthful habitation walk memory lane. I have spent at least 15 years researching many family histories of this area and in particularly those who were interred in the Ft Victoria Graveyard. This research has shown a link by blood or marriage between virtually all of the deceased interred there. I have information I am willing to share including a database showing the genealogy of these families.

    1. I am very interested in this area Steven. My great grandfather Leopold Perras was at river Lot 2 Lobstick and I know that this eventually became owned by an Anderson. Looking for information on them and the area if you have it.

      1. river lot 2 was owned by Henry G Anderson born Nov 1879 at PA, NWT & Maggie Whitford a daughter Andrew. Henry was living next door to his father John Michael Anderson & Harriet Halcrow on lot 3. It appears by the birth of their children they were on the lot in 1900. This area in the 1880`s had an Indian reserve just past it a mile or two named for the distinctive feature – the cut hill which Cree approximates in English as Wahsatnow from which is rendered Waskatneau the Ukranian settlement in the area. The reserve was removed in 1900.
        By 1911 John is living with his son in law Frederick Whitford at lot 15 his wife deceased.
        I don’t have much more on the Henry G family other than the two surviving(?) children Eliza and Iria.


    2. Hello Steven:
      I have been doing research on my family that lived in the Pakan. Lewis Thompson and Adaline Norn. I would be very interested in speaking with you about the research you have on the area. please contact me .
      Thank you.

      Pauline Thompson

      1. Hi Pauline. Sorry for delay not a usual blog for me to check. Louis Thompson born 23 Feb 1836 Norway died before 1911 at Pakan, Alberta, Canada parents unknown. Adelaide Adeline Norn born 18 Jan 1864 PLP, RPTL died 29 Dec 1951 at unknown place. Their daughter Clara Olena married Frank E Mitchell who wrote a book entitled ‘A history od pioneering in the Pakan district’ and a curator of a number of local facts.

    3. I am researching the Anderson family and I wonder if you have any details about Henry Anderson. B 1856. The family did live in Victoria Alberta at some time

      1. Janice,

        Thanks for contacting RETROactive. In 1873 Peter Erasmus noted an Anderson living at Victoria Settlement / Lobstick Settlement without elaborating on his name or exact location of settlement. The 1901 Canadian census lists Henry Anderson [b. 16 Nov. 1856] with his wife Margaret [b. 25 May 1860] living at Pakan / Victoria Settlement along with 6 children born between 1887 and 1900. In the same household was an elderly 97 year old Thomas Anderson born in 1803. The 1906 census lists Henry & Margaret and 6 children living on River Lot 9 at Pakan. All the children are listed as “Alberta” born, while Henry and Margaret are listed as having been born in Manitoba. You might check the book by D.N. Sprague & R.P. Frye “Genealogy of the First Metis Nation” to get some possible background information on the Andersons prior to their arrival at Pakan. The Charles Denney Metis genealogy files at Calgary’s Glenbow Museum might also be of help to you. Henry Anderson’s homestead file can be found on Film #2029, File #408009 at the Provincial Archives of Alberta [ 8555 Roper Road Edmonton, Alberta T6E 5W1 (780) 427-1056].

        Peter Melnycky

      2. HI Janice Here is some of what I have. Henry William Anderson born 16 Nov 1856 PLP, RPTLD
        died after 1921 at Pakan, Alberta, Canada s\o Henry Anderson born17 Aug 1827 RRS & Sophia Harper born 2 July 1820 Moose Factory. Henry married Mary Margaret Whitford born 25 May 1860 PLP, RPTLD died 15 Jan 1911 North Bank(Pakan). Alberta, Canada d/o Magnus Whitford & Sarah Sally Spence.

    4. I realize this is an old post but I am searching for information in my past family history. My great grandfather Ray Edgar Whitford

      1. Steven Bentley has researched the Whitford family extensively as you can see from previous posts. I might add that there is a homestead file at the Provincial Archives of Alberta regarding Ray Edgar Whitford receiving Section 5, Township 66, Range 13, West of the 4th Meridian [Film #2448, Accession #1970.313, File #3139911]. Also Ray Edgar Whitford’s attestation papers for his WWI service are available online at His complete service record can also be ordered through Library and Archives Canada.

      2. Raymond Edgar Whitford born 25 Mar 1897 at Saddle Lake died 3 Oct 1967 Goodfish Lake son of Simon Whitford born 1826 Red River & Francoise Hope born 1855 Lac la Biche as described in previous posts by myself above this one.

        Ray married Nancy Helena Bigsnake born 1900 Whitefish Lake died 1989 Goodfish Lake daughter of Alexander Bigsnake born about 1883 Whitefish Lake died about 1903 Whitefish Lake and Edith Emma Neeneekutawapiw Sparklingeyes born Dec1878 Whitefish Lake died unknown. Edith’s parents were R. Neeneekutaways/Sparklingeyes born abt 1830 Whitefish Lake died before 1901 Saddle Lake and Sophie born May 1831 Whitefish Lake died unknown.
        Alexander’s father was Bigsnake born 1845 Muskwachies died about 1893 Whitefish Lake and Margaret Emma Muskwaychuk Stanley born 1843 Whitefish Lake died 6 May 1909 Ft Saskatchewan. Margaret was brother to Jacob Muskwaychuk Stanley born 1835 Weechuskasees Sakaihigan (Onion Lake) died before 1885 White Fish Lake. Margaret was married previously to Samuel Favel born Sep1854 St Andrew’s Red River.

        Ray & Nancy had 7 children- Charles Clarence 1920-1958; Olive 1922-1991;Mina Maryjane 1926-; John Kenneth Dick 1928-2010; Marilyn born about 1930 died about 1933;Simon Andrew 1936-1997; Martha Sylvia 1939- 2010

        I have more information but some is living descendant information and private and some only relevant if seeking status. Contact me if you wish to correspond/query further.

    5. Hi Steven,

      I am wondering if the Allen Whitford you are speaking of is Allenson Whitford who married Beatrice Turner? I am a great-granddaughter to him and we just had a Turner family reunion at Metis Crossing and is was surreal to say the least to see pictures and walk on the land where our ancestors worked,played, lived, loved and lost.

  7. Found this site and there it is. Pakan. My Grandfather Steve Ratsoy immigrated here with his wife Katrina and one child from the Ukraine as did many others. My Grandfather was very active apparently in the community but I am unable to find much in writing about him. He did move as many did over into Smokey Lake and farmed there after their having 17 kids. Ratsoy was originally spelled Racoi
    Anyhow anybody with information about Steven contact me at Thanks much. My mother’s name was Violet (Waslinka) with Elizabeth as a sister, Metro and Nick were brothers. The others I do not know.

    1. Bob,
      Thanks for contacting RETROactive. Leslie J. Hurt’s “The Victoria Settlement 1862-1922” notes that the Ratsoy family was one of the first to settle in the Pakan area. The Smoky Lake local history “Our Legacy: History of Smoky Lake and Area”, as you might be aware has a one page article on your branch of the family on p. 758. There is also an older manuscript history of Smoky Lake by Mary Ratsoy “History of Smoky Lake Ukrainian Settlement” which might also have information of help to you, but I have never seen a copy of this work. The Provincial Archives of Alberta hold records pertaining to homesteads taken up in Alberta, including that of your grandfather. Stephen Ratsoy’s homestead files re. Section 24-59-17-W4 can be found on Film #2526, File #101368A. [, 8555 Roper Road, Edmonton, Alberta T6E 5W1 (780) 427-1056]. You might also want to contact The Alberta Ukraine Genealogical Project at which may have detailed information on file about your family history.

      Peter Melnycky

      1. Thank you for your information. I will definitely follow up. Again I appreciate your help.

  8. I am very interested in your site and your book, my boyfriend is from the Lamont area, and would love a copy of your book, there is another out there that I would like to find, if you could please contact me I would very much appreciate it. He is a member of the Bryks family from Lamont. with much thanks in advance

    1. Sheila,
      Thanks for contacting RETROactive. The book “A Veritable Canaan: Alberta’s Victoria Settlement” can be obtained through Ross Stromberg, Program Coordinator at Victoria Settlement Provincial Historic Site. His coordinates are #318, 5025-49th Ave., St Paul AB TOA 3A4, telephone: [780] 645-6256 and email He will be very happy to get a copy of the book to you. What was the other book you were looking for?

      Peter Melnycky

      1. Hello Peter
        Just wanted to comment on the book “A veritable Canaan: Alberta’s Victoria Settlement. I visited there last summer and was able to pick the book up there. I was amazed when I realized the cover picture was my great grandfather Lewis Thompson and his wife Adaline Norn Thompson the little boy standing was my great uncle Henry. the baby I believe to be his sister Mary. would you have any information on Lewis Thompson

  9. Pauline,

    Thanks for contacting RETROactive regarding the Thompson family at Victoria Settlement. The portrait of the Thompson family on the cover of the “A Veritable Canaan” is in the collections of the Smoky Lake Musuem. I can tell you that the 1901 Canadian census listed Lewis [born 23 Feb. 1837] and his wife “Adilina” [18 Jan. 1865] at Pakan along with seven children: Sarah C. [3 Aug. 1887], Clara O. [24 June 1889], Cleophus [30 March 1891], Henry T. [20 March 1894], Mary E. [1 Dec. 1897], David [24 Sept. 1898] and Elsey L. [30 Sept. 1900]. The 1906 census lists Lewis & Adeline on River Lot 5 along with 8 children the latest being 3 year old Velma U. and notes that Lewis arrived in Canada from Norway in 1871 while Adeline came from Manitoba. You might check the book by D.N. Sprague & R.P. Frye “Genealogy of the First Metis Nation” to get some possible background information on the Thompsons prior to their arrival at Pakan. The Charles Denney Metis genealogy files at Calgary’s Glenbow Museum might also be of help to you. There appears to be a homestead file for Lewis Thompson from after his time at Pakan. It can be found on Film #2735, File #929477 at the Provincial Archives of Alberta [ 8555 Roper Road Edmonton, Alberta T6E 5W1 (780) 427-1056].

    Peter Melnycky

  10. On behalf of all those posting on this Victoria Settlement blog I wanted to thank Steven Bentley for sharing the valuable genealogical information which he has accumulated over the years. His research is a huge achievement and it is very generous of him to share it with us.

    Peter Melnycky


  11. I Stumbled on this site by fluke. To me it was my grandpa and grandma’s house, who were James and Evelyn Mitchell. My father’s name was Ken. When my Dad passed away I inherited his scrap books which a lot have to do with the Pakan community, If anyone is interested, I can try to scan the pictures I have which I believe would mainly date around the 50’s.

    Evelyn Mitchell Coene

  12. hello Evelyn: I would be very interested in your information. My grandfather was Cleophus tThompson and brother to Clara Mitchell. I have been doing family research for a couple of years now and am always excited when I can find new information. My grandparents homesteaded in Pakan.

  13. Steven Bentley,

    I have a quick follow up to a previous post. On some information on Percy Gullion I was wondering if I could check the birth name as I am not having any luck with that name in my research. Goulash seems to me to be Hungarian or something similar, rather than welsh. As for the cousin George was that by lee or his birth name?

    Thank you so much and I really appreciate this information it has opened a whole new world to me.

    Jodie S.

    1. Hi Jodie The info I received was from a telephone interview with Percy’s daughter Marjorie who may not be alive now as it was in 2005 when I spoke with her. Our family history is that he was left with a Welsh family who intended to return for him but believed him to be terminally ill so likely considering the distances and the times couldn’t timely achieve this. If you would like to correspond direct you can do so at In a more private atmosphere I may be able to put you in contact with some of the person who gave me these details. I can speak to my elders again for more info but no one really knew too much and I have tried to give the most reliable facts I have. However direct contact with the family may reveal more.

  14. Steven,

    You are a 5th cousin of mine. Frances Ingram, wife of my cousin, Gary Ingram has informed me in 2013 of our relationship since she is an avid genealogist. Our connection will be through the Whitfords. If you are in the neighbourhood of Surrey, BC, I would like to get together. My phone is 604-536-9049. Let me know.

    Joseph Shannon
    South Surrey, BC

  15. My husband’s great, great grandparents were William and Sarah (Whitford) Norn, who lived on Lot 14 in Victoria Settlement and who, I believe, were buried in the cemetery there. I have had lots of good info from our distant cousins, Shirley and Pauline, but would love to know more about Norn relatives, including Rory McCrae.
    How may I purchase a copy of Peter Melnycky’s book? We plan a second trip to V.S. this summer (the first one was fascinating but much too short). I wonder if Mr. Melncky is in residence there at any time? – it would be so great to talk to him. Would he consider giving a seminar there?
    If any of you are considering taking a trip to V.S. just do it. History comes to life there.
    Jan and Dan Norn,
    Crescent Valley, B.C.

  16. Jan,

    Thanks for contacting RETROactive. You will see from previous comments on this blog that there are a great number of very knowledgeable people with genealogical interests similar to your own.

    Perhaps we could all meet at the site one weekend for a gathering of Victoria Settlement families and do some networking?

    In the meantime please check out the Victoria Settlement website for special events coming up this summer at

    The book “A Veritable Canaan: Alberta’s Victoria Settlement” can be obtained through Ross Stromberg, Program Coordinator at Victoria Settlement Provincial Historic Site. His coordinates are #318, 5025-49th Ave., St Paul AB TOA 3A4, telephone: [780] 645-6256 and email He will be very happy to get a copy of the book to you.

    You can find William and Sarah Norn listed on the 1901 Canada Census. Also homestead files relating to William Norn’s farm at Victoria can be found at the Provincial Archives of Alberta: Accession #1970.313, Film #2970, File #789529.

    Peter Melnycky

    1. Many thanks, Peter. I think a day spent at V.S. with you and some of our many relatives would be enormously productive – and exciting.
      Shirley (who is a far more organised researcher than I am) will be in touch with you to discuss this further.
      I will contact Ross for a copy of your book and look forward to more discoveries.

      1. Hi :
        This is pauline and I would love to be included in a day at Victoria Settlement i will bring the family info i have and would really enjoy meeting relatives. Please let me know when.

  17. Still hoping and planning Pauline. It would need to be a weekend in August to give us time to put things together. It will depend on permission from Peter and Ross… So look forward to meeting you and more of our cousins.

  18. hi I found this site while searching my husbands family (john a. Mitchell)
    is I believe his great great grand father
    do you have any information on him
    thank you

  19. It is happening!
    With the help of Peter and Ross there will be a GATHERING of families and friends of the original settlers at Victoria Settlement on Saturday, August 6th, 2016. For more details email Shirley and Jan at or visit our Facebook Page: Gathering at Victoria Settlement, 2016. We look forward to meeting our cousins and friends. Please spread the word…

    1. Steven Bentley
      It looks like you are referring to Simon Whitford building the Whitford House which is now just farm buildings that have fallen in. These are located across from the Anderson House that was built in 1906.

      1. Hi Noreen
        The 1893 Lobstick Settlement map shows the buildings located on the north side of the road. The ruins which you make mention of are the original buildings from even earlier build as Simon arrived in the area in 1870 married in August 1871 to an Indian widow woman Francise Hope/Cardinal from the reserve just two miles west of the settlement. Henry G Anderson is located on lot 2 beside his father on John M on lot 3. Henry Anderson first cousin to John M is resident on lot 11. Joseph J Favel is resident on lot 12. Lot 13 appears to be empty. Simon Whitford is enumerated in 1881 at Victoria and given that the hamlet was already overflowing the river lot system was employed and as settlers arrived they built a residence it is probable that he built the old ruins at this time. This community was all related by marriage as the House/Howse, Whitford, Spence and Favel family intermarried. James Cardinal on lot 8/9 is from Goodfish an Objiway indian who enfranchised. Benjamin Sinclair his bother in law lives on lot 10. This map shows the location of the buildings from 1893 and while it does not show the old buildings it does show the house ‘in the road’ as well as the other building to the north of it. There our family history with my grandfather Allan Whitford having been born in that house in 1902. There is a strong possibility that Frederick Whitford the father of Allan being born in the OLD ruins in 1876 as Simon Whitford (2) son of Simon and Francoise was born there in 1873. Simon and Francoise have 7 of their 9 children born at Lobstick. Two children were born at the residence of Simon’s brother Charles who operated a Stopping House at Pipestone Creek on the buffalo hunt trail. In 1901 Simon’s family as well as Frederick’s family are enumerated in two residences at the site. This is in keeping with the ‘new’ house being north of the road already since previous to 1901 in keeping to the 1893 map. The two successors you mention are both son inlaws of Simon Whitford. Frederick remains in residence until after 1912 when he removes to Lafond and worked at Saddle Lake. The full story of the title transfer has not been passed down but from what did and the Lobstick map of 1893 showing buildings at the current location I am convinced that the new house was built by Simon Whitford before 1901 and was the house he occupied in the 1901 census while Frederick his son lived in the old ‘ruins’ structure. The logs used in the new house were hand hewn as I personally inspected them. As for dovetailing remember that all of the early churches and other buildings were built by local artisans whether Alex Cardinal building churches for Lacombe or other who gained their craft from Hudson bay employment constructing boats or buildings as required. Also the Whitford family were early sawmill workers and would have had access to sawn lumber which was used on upgrades not the original structure. Many years ago the exterior walls had a form of siding that was available late in the 19th century which was used by the Whitford family. In particular Philip Whitford who operated the trading post at Andrew used an embossed metal covering which fit together and could be painted and was very durable. In fact it still on the original trading post built before 1880 which had these applied to it before 1900 that is located in a historic theme museum near Shandro bridge. Philip was a first cousin to Simon and their fathers had married sisters. All of these elements tend to blend together to point to the ‘new’ house being built in the last decade of 1890-1900 by Simon Whitford. The 1893 map was prepared from information gathered by Dominion Land Surveyor (DLS) D Beatty in 1882-1883; DLS Tom Kains in 1884; DLS J E Woods in 1896; and by DLS J E Mclean in 1900. A tree ring survey on the original logs may yield the best date and be able to create a maximum age for the structure. The census shows Frederick there until aft 1911 which is very close to the 1912 homestead improvement. As for Simon not proving up homestead it was his passing in 1903 followed by Francise’s passing in 1906. Frederick also raised his young brother Raymond Edgar and was able to purchase land and build a livery stable shortly after leaving this house. He was the joint heir and brother in law to the two new owners both who owned property in the area who between them determined title holder on what ever basis and which action transpired in 1912. If you will provide me with an email I will forward you a copy of the map.

  20. Hello Steven – Shirley and I have been trying to contact you but I think we may have had an old email address. We are hoping that you will come to the Victoria Settlement Gathering on August 6th. It will be a day of sharing memories and family histories – and your knowledge of the V.S. history would be so greatly appreciated. Please email us at if you are able to be part of the Gathering.
    Peter Melnycky and Ross Stromberg will be in attendance as well,

  21. I am excited to read all the notes. I am hoping to attend this gathering in Aug. I am not really connected to the Norn family by blood but by marriage. Annie Norn, daughter of Sarah and William, and Richard Steele. I will leave you now and save the ending for the Gathering!

    1. Look forward to meeting you Anne. Have just been corresponding with your cousin Annie (from Richard’s second marriage) and hope she may come as well. So exciting to find out our history…

  22. Hello Steven
    I have not viewed this site for quite a while and am amazed at your responses. You have done a lot of work which is obviously helping many people look into their family history. Not only have you compiled genealogy but you have considered building materials and how crafts were learned. It would be interesting to see the map you refer to. My email address is Thanks very much for sharing.

  23. August 6th, 2016 is the date of our Gathering at V.S. Steven Bentley will be there with two other genealogists to help you find your family history. This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to learn about your past.

  24. I found this site engaging. My wife’s great-great-great grandfather was George MacDougall. We were at the Victoria Settlement in the summer of 2015 and I saw your settlement gathering notice 3 weeks too late. That would have been an interesting weekend.

  25. Interesting site.
    I see several distant, unknown to me, relatives…
    My grandfather, Gordon Alan Mitchell (son of John Alexander Mitchell) and wife Laura, and my parents Alan and Wilma Mitchell used to visit the site before it was a historic site. We have traced our roots back to Parkmore farm Scotland, and Dufftown Scotland, where the first licensed scotch distillery was established.

    Terry Mitchell

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