History of Jasper

History of the Land

The present-day Municipality of Jasper is located on Treaty 6 and 8 Territories. Since time immemorial, a diversity of Indigenous Peoples utilized this land as a meeting ground, gathering place, travelling route and home. Over 26 Indigenous Partners remain connected to this area presently. 

The first recorded European to visit the Athabasca Valley was Surveyor David Thompson in 1810. At this time and throughout the 1800s, Indigenous Peoples continued to care for the land while they shared invaluable knowledge and guidance to European explorers and fur traders. 

Creation of Jasper Forest Reserve 

When Jasper Park Forest Reserve was created in 1907, Indigenous Peoples were forcibly removed and excluded from this part of their Traditional Territories. Through the colonial worldview, the landscape was understood as a backdrop for European settler recreation and a promise of economic prosperity through tourism. 

Following the removal of Indigenous Peoples, mountains, rivers, and other parts of the landscape were renamed with settler colonial names.

Jasper Townsite and Tourism

The creation of the railway across Canada in the early 1900s led to more settlers establishing themselves in what is now known as the Jasper townsite. Today, Jasper is a World Heritage site with over 2 million visitors passing through the park gates each year.

Ongoing Learning 

More details about the history of this area and creation of Jasper National Park can be found on the Parks Canada website, along with the contact information for over 26 Indigenous Partners of Jasper who continue to identify a connection to this area. 

The Jasper Museum currently includes exhibits on the fur trade, railway and early exploration and tourism in Jasper National Park. The Museum is open daily 10am-5pm and the fee is by donation. 

The Municipality of Jasper is engaged in ongoing learning as we build relationships with Indigenous partners who are connected to these lands. This brief overview of Jasper’s History is a starting point as we continue to partner with Indigenous Peoples to tell the history of Jasper accurately and honestly.