Heritage Trail: The Many Battle Rivers of Alberta

Fights were common between different aboriginal groups in the pre-settlement days. And several place names in Alberta marked the locations of these skirmishes.

According to historian Merrily Aubrey, one of the oldest recorded names in Alberta is that of the Battle River which flows east from Pigeon Lake in to Saskatchewan.

It was Peter Fidler who during his travels recorded the name Battle or Fighting River for the feature, and this was in 1793. So we’re going back quite a way here. Whatever prompted the name occurred some time earlier.

Although it’s not known for sure, it has been recorded that fights between the Blackfoot and the Cree near this water course. The Stoney have also named it Battle in their language in their language, so they might have had some involvement there too.

But this is not the only so-called Batlle River in Alberta’s history.

As the Cree moved west into Alberta, conflict with established tribes was inevitable.

The Cree word for battle is something like “nonteen a quee in.”

In 1915m the name Notekeewin was adopted for the river that flows into the Peace River Northwest of Manning.

There’s also a community by that name. The original recorded by the Dominion Land Surveys was Battle River, and it’s actually known locally to the aboriginal people in their language as the first Battle River.

There were also the second and third battles rivers, and all in the area around Manning, but there names were changed to Hotchkiss and Meikle rivers respectively.

And all the fighting names like refer to battles between the Cree and the Beaver, or Dene Ta.

The Battle River was annotated as such by Surveyour J A Buchanan.

But the names of it and its tributaries, the second and third Battle Rivers were changed to avoid duplication with Battle River in Central Alberta.

On the heritage trail, I'm Cheryl Croucher.