River lots offer view of Métis and French Canadian history

Sharon Morin beams as she tours people through the living history on offer at River Lots 23 and 24. 

‘It’s a magical place here in St. Albert’

Sharon Morin, program manager for Museum and Heritage Sites with the Arts and Heritage Foundation of St. Albert, gives a tour of River Lot 24. (Adrienne Lamb/CBC)

Sharon Morin beams as she tours people through the living history on offer at River Lots 23 and 24. 

"It's a magical place," says Morin, program manager for Museum and Heritage Sites with the Arts and Heritage Foundation of St. Albert. 

The large parcel of land on the bank of the Sturgeon River is dotted with barns, a garden and historic homes, sits across from St. Albert Grain Elevator Park.

Visitors can tour the Cunningham House and the Hogan Belcourt House on River Lot 24. (Adrienne Lamb/CBC)

The river-lot system, used when water was the main corridor for transport, predates the establishment of Alberta as a province or Canada as a country, Morin says. 

"These were long narrow lots that were attached to the river. The houses were the closest part to the river with their animals and their gardens toward the back of the lots." 

The benefit, Morin says, is you were closer to your neighbours, unlike the quarter-section system. 

'A place of gathering where people can come and learn'

2 years ago
Duration 1:35
Take a tour of River Lots 23 and 24 with Sharon Morin, program manager for museum and heritage sites with the Arts and Heritage Foundation of St. Albert, Alta.

You can see more from River Lots 23 and 24 on this week's Our Edmonton Saturday at 10 a.m., Sunday at noon and 11 a.m. Monday on CBC TV and CBC GEM. 

This week, a fresh coat of paint is going on the La Maison Chevigney, a two-storey log house built in the late 1880s by the Chevigny brothers.

"They were boatbuilders and shipbuilders out of Quebec, so the style of building is totally different from a typical western- style building."

The home sits next to the Brousseau Granary on River Lot 23. The buildings and grounds, which opens next spring, will bring the journey of French-Canadian settlers to life. 

Each river lot had a large garden behind the house. (Adrienne Lamb/CBC)

Next door, on River Lot 24, the Hogan/Belcourt House and the Cunningham House are filled with Métis artifacts and history. 

River Lot 24 is open to visitors by appointment which can be arranged by contacting Musée Héritage Museum

"The end vision is that this place be a place of gathering, a place where people can come and learn about fur trade, about families, about midwifery, about agriculture and about how Métis people made their imprint on Alberta as a province," Morin says.

St. Albert Grain Elevator Park, with train station and two grain elevators, is adjacent to River Lots 23 and 24. (Adrienne Lamb/CBC)


Adrienne Lamb


Adrienne Lamb is the host and producer of Our Edmonton featured weekly on CBC TV. She served for several years as CBC Radio's national arts reporter in Edmonton. Prior to moving to Alberta in 2001, Adrienne worked at CBC in Ontario and New Brunswick. Adrienne is a graduate of Western University with a degree in English and Anthropology and a Masters in Journalism.


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