Erik Nitsche: Fort Whoop Up/Alberta

Artist: Erik Nitsche
1908 - 1998
Nationality: Swiss
Artwork Year: 1985
Image Size: 12 by 14 inches
Overall Size: 15 by 20 inches
Medium: Mixed Media on Cold Press Illustration Board

The vast Canadian frontier, like the American West, was not an environment for the meek. The land was often desolate and the weather harsh. Bands of Indians, both friendly and unfriendly, roamed the open prairies and any person's survival depended on wits and strength. To increase their chances of survival, many trappers and traders built small enclosures or forts to protect themselves and their goods from thieves, both white and Indian. One such fort was Fort Whoop Up, an outpost established in Alberta a short distance from the U.S. border. Fort Whoop Up was built by two traders named Healy and Hamilton, and was first called Fort Hamilton. The traders worked for a fur company in nearby Fort Benton, Montana and traded the Indians whiskey for buffalo robes and other hides. The traders and the Indians had an uneasy peace and neither really trusted the other. Indeed, when Indians brought buffalo hides to the fort, they would have to push the hides through a small, barred window in the wall of the fort and would receive a tin mug of raw whiskey in payment. Unfortunately, this type of mistrust and the effect of the whiskey resulted in a confrontation in 1873, which left twenty Assiniboine Indians and one white man dead. Concerned by the disregard of the international boundaries and the undesirable element "whiskey forts," such as Fort Whoop Up, were attracting to its frontier, the Royal Mounted Canadian Police began closing such establishments in the late 1800s.

This painting was originally published on the Fleetwood® First Day Cover for the Canada 34¢ Fort Whoop Up stamp issued June 28, 1985.

Artwork Copyright © 1985 Unicover Corporation. All Rights Reserved under United States and international copyright laws. You may not reproduce, distribute, transmit, or otherwise exploit the Artwork in any way. Images of the Artwork may be watermarked and/or digitally watermarked. Any sale of the physical original does not include or convey the Copyright or any right comprised in the copyright.
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