While it may read “North Vermilion” on maps and signs, this settlement is known as “Buttertown” to locals.
Buttertown gets its name from the dairy production of its early residents, who traded butter in great quantities with independent traders and the Hudson’s Bay Company. The butter was then delivered to communities farther north or resold locally.
Participating in this trade was not as easy as it sounds. In order to reach the fur trade center in Fort Vermilion, Buttertown residents needed to cross the Peace River, which was sometimes difficult due to poor river conditions.
This struggle continued until 1974 when the Fort Vermilion Bridge was constructed, providing easier access to residents on both sides of the river. Various vessels, including steamers and ferries, were also used to transport goods and services beginning in 1903 with the St. Charles.
Although the ferry no longer operates and butter making is no longer a livelihood for the residents, Buttertown is still an active community and is recognized as an important part of Fort Vermilion’s past.
Buttertown has historically been a self-contained community with its own stores, church, pool halls, school, saw, and flour mills.