This new cultural Gathering Centre sits on a 512-acre site along the North Saskatchewan River – just outside of Smoky Lake, as a place to come together to celebrate and learn about Métis culture. Providing ample space for gatherings, meetings, learning, and more, the Gathering Centre also features an expansive 2,600 square foot deck and canopy on the south side, providing scenic views of the river valley.

Project Essentials

  • LocationSmoky Lake, AB
  • ClientMétis Nation of Alberta
  • ArchitectManasc Isaac
  • Size13,500 ft² (1,250 m²)
  • BudgetC$8.5 million

Timber was a natural choice for the primary structural material given its long history of use in traditional Métis construction practices. To make the best use of the natural properties and strengths in timber, many different types of the material were utilized throughout the building to achieve functional and aesthetic goals. The selected types of wood construction include traditional methods such as heavy timber and stud framing as well as newer engineered wood products including glulam and engineered lumber.

The exposed timber structure is featured prominently in the main gathering hall. The butterfly-shaped roof presented a unique challenge for the design team as this area was intended to be entirely column-free while spanning 47 feet across the hall. The roof framing utilizes rustic finished glulam decking panels supported by hybrid heavy timber and steel trusses to achieve the natural aesthetic desired. To achieve the long spans needed with readily available solid timber lengths, Fast + Epp developed a unique truss system which allowed the timber chords to be discontinuous in the middle at the low point of the roof. The truss shape is intended to mimic the infinity symbol of Métis culture.

The Métis Crossing Cultural Gathering Centre will enable Métis Crossing to provide year-round services hosting events and acting as a first-class tourism attraction within the province. A place of pride and community, people of all backgrounds can come together to learn and celebrate Métis culture and history.

See the virtual tour: