Charlotte Small Celebrated as a National Historic Person

Acclaimed wife, mother, explorer and Métis daughter of the fur trade honoured with commemorative plaque at special ceremony

Rocky Mountain House, Alberta – Blaine Calkins, Member of Parliament for Wetaskiwin, on behalf of the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of the Environment and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, today paid tribute to Charlotte Small for her contribution to the fur trade and exploration in Canada. A special ceremony was held at Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site where MP Calkins unveiled a Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada commemorative plaque.

Small was born to a Cree mother and Scottish father on September 1, 1785. At the age of 13, she married 29-year-old David Thompson, a young trader with the North West Company. The skills of her mother’s people, the Cree language and her travel wisdom helped Thompson navigate and map vast sections of western Canada. Logging more than 40,000 km with her husband, she travelled more than 3.5 times farther than well known American explorers Lewis and Clark.

The Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada was established in 1919 and is supported by Parks Canada. It advises the Minister of the Environment regarding the national historic significance of places, persons and events that have marked Canada’s history. On behalf of the people of Canada, Parks Canada manages a nationwide network that makes up a rich tapestry of Canada’s historical heritage and offers the public opportunities for real and inspiring discoveries.

Quick Facts

• Charlotte Small was born to a Cree mother and Northwest Trading Company trader in 1785.

• Charlotte Small and David Thompson had 13 children.

• Often accompanied by their children, Charlotte Small and David Thompson travelled on foot, canoe and horseback, mapping much of western Canada.

• Small died in 1857, three months after her husband’s death.

• To date, the Government of Canada has designated over 2,000 national historic sites, persons and events.


“On behalf of our Government, I am proud to commemorate Charlotte Small for her contributions to the fur trade and exploration of western Canada. Charlotte Small exemplifies the contributions of Aboriginal women to the building of Canada, and today, we celebrate her as a person of national historic significance. As we approach Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017, I encourage all Canadians to reflect on the people and events that have shaped Canada into the strong, proud, and free country that it is today.” ~ Blaine Calkins, Member of Parliament for Wetaskiwin

“Standing in the silence, Charlotte Small was an important figure, giving a voice to the many multi-skilled women who were unpaid and nameless in the male dominated fur trade that was highly dependent upon Aboriginal and Métis women acting as guides, translators, confidantes and expert wilderness survivalists. Charlotte Small performed all these roles as a wife, mother and daughter. Her courage and achievements will withstand the test of time and serve as encouragement for the generations of Aboriginal women to come, and recognition of the many silent women of the fur trade.” ~ Pat McDonald, historian and author, Rocky Mountain House.

(Source: Parks Canada)

Associated Links

Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada:

Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site:

Heritage Confluence Society: