Rocky Mountain House draws its rich history from the North Saskatchewan River. Fur traders used the River to transport goods east that were found west, within and over the great Rocky Mountain range. It was the prominent location of the confluence of the Clearwater and North Saskatchewan River where the two competing fur trading companies of the 1800s, the Hudson’s Bay Company and North West Company decided to set up trading posts. Both companies had the idea of using this site as a jumping off point for exploration of routes to the Pacific Coast, as well as for fur trading.
Prior to the establishment of the two posts, the Cree and the Blackfoot had traded at Edmonton House, but conflict between the two was always imminent. The Rocky Mountain House posts were in Blackfoot territory where it was unlikely the Cree would come in great numbers, and yet close enough to the mountains so that the trading Companies hoped to attract the trade of the Kootenays from across the mountains where the beaver was more plentiful. The Blackfoot, however, had other ideas. They did not wish to see their traditional enemies armed with guns, and therefore blocked the Kootenay from coming to the trading post, and blocked the explorers from crossing the mountains.
It was customary to man these forts only in winter, abandoning them in spring for the better supplied base at Edmonton. Spring break-up was also the time the furs were loaded in the York boats and the long trek to York factory started.