In 1910, Alfred Paterson Sr., originally of Scotland, purchased the property that the peak of Straw Stack or Iron Creek Hill is located on. He would own it until 1951 when his son, Alfred Patesron Jr., would take over the farm.
Alfred Sr. homesteaded around the hill beginning in 1907 on a quarter to the south-west. At this time, the land was mostly open prairie and roads were just trails in the sod. He remembered that, in the early days, groups of First Nations peoples would camp to the south of him in the summertime nearby the creek (Iron Creek). He would sometimes work with them or hire them to work with him. It was amazing to see contrasting cultures and ways of life working side-by-side for a time. In 2001, the property was passed onto Alfred Jr.’s son, Bill, and his wife, Yvonne. Bill and Yvonne had lived nearby for many years by that time. Yvonne was very interested in the hill as local word had it that a meteorite fell on it sometime before written word could account for it. Tales of it are not certain and we may never really know the correct location of where the meteorite, Manitou Asinîy fell. However, in 2013, the property that majority of the hill is located on was Designated a Municipal Historic Resource.
The hill is a large rounded outcrop at approximately 150 meters in length and almost the same size in width. The hill has both open prairie spaces and tree cover. It is visible from all directions surrounding it and is the highest point of land for many miles around.
The earliest known reference to this hill was by Alexander Henry in 1810. It was called “Iron Creek Hill” as there was once an iron meteorite there. The hill was also called “Iron Creek Hill” by missionary John McDougall in his 1911 book, “In the Days of the Red River Rebellion.” In 1866, Mr. David McDougall, at the request of his father; the Methodist Reverend George McDougall, brought into the Victoria Mission a mass of meteoric iron via the Red River cart trail. After the stone was removed, famine and disease soon followed; believed to be the result of moving the stone.
The meteorite was thought to weigh 386 lbs (later changed to 320 lbs) and comprised of 91.33% iron, 8.83% nickel, and 0.49% cobalt with a specific gravity of 7.784 . It is termed an octahedrite because of its nickel concentration. The meteorite is roughly triangular in shape but is broader that it is thick. Its surface is rounded and pitted in appearance.
In 1886, the stone was moved to Victoria University, Cobourg, Ontario for a short while. It was studied there until 1892 after Victoria University moved to Toronto to federate with the University of Toronto. The meteorite was then transferred to the Royal Ontario Museum. It is now currently at the Royal Alberta Museum, Edmonton, Alberta after being moved there on long-term loan for a display on Albertan meteorites in 1973. Since 2001, that loan has been made permanent and the Royal Alberta Museum now has guardianship of the stone.
It is believed that observers of the meteorite in its original location brought offerings to the site where it laid. The meteorite was greatly revered by First Nations peoples in the area. Some believe that the markings on the outer surface of the meteorite form the outline of a face, that the stone attracted lightning, and that it had grown in size since they first saw it.
Once the region was homesteaded, the hill the meteorite used to sit on started to be known as “Straw Stack Hill” because it resembled a stack of straw at harvest time. In 1952, roadwork being done over the hill uncovered the remains of a young adult buried on the hill. A bulldozer digging out gravel unearthed them. The individual was believed to have been young as nearly all the teeth were present and in good condition. The grave was thought to be that of a First Nations person because the grave lacked any sort of marker and there were no records of any homesteaders being buried there. Excavations ceased, the remains were reburied, and a wooden marker was supposedly placed at the west end of the grave.
In 2017, a group of local First Nations peoples came to visit the hill. They were part of a ceremony which gathered materials for the new exhibit for Manitou Asinîy at the Royal Alberta Museum.
Paterson, Yvonne. Personal communication. 30 Jul. 2018.
Additional History on the Property
Canada’s Iron Creek Meteorite
Spratt, Christopher E. “Canada’s iron creek meteorite.” Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, vol. 83, no. 2, 1989, pp. 81-91.
A Meteorite from the Northwest
Coleman, Arthur Philemon. “A meteorite from the northwest.” Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada, vol. 4, sec. 3, 1886, pp. 97.
Stars Fall Over Canada
Millman, Peter M. and McKinley, D.W.R. “Stars fall over Canada.” Royal Astronomical Society of Canada Journal, vol. 61, no. 5, 1957, pp. 277-279
Article From Local Paper
2001 Indian Place Names of the West
Fromhold, Joachim. 2001 Indian Place Names of the West – Part 1. 1st ed. Blackfalls: Lulu, 2010. Print
Letter From Allen Ronaghan to Council
The Iron Creek Meteorite
Ronaghan, Allen. “The Iron Creek Meteorite.” Alberta Historical Review, vol. 21, no. 3, 1973, pp. 10-12.