The church is located in Medicine Lodge Coulee in the last western valley of the Alberta Cypress Hills. This area was not covered by the last Ice Age and is unique in terms of plant and animal life. The cut bank to the north east of the site has formations which are 30-60 million years old. They show evidence of fossils representative of a vast inland ocean; most field stones have been rounded by water action. Fourteen different types of Orchids occur in these hills. Wildlife abounds including deer, elk, moose, cougars, coyotes, rabbits, weasels, porcupine, antelope. The hills host many types of birds notably the Rocky Mountain Bluebirds, Turkey Buzzards and migratory Eagles.
The Cypress Hills form part of a series of watering/resting places for Aboriginal peoples. Other sites are the Sweet Grass Hills (90 miles south west) and the Bear’s Paw Mountains (75 miles south of Havre, Montana). This church is located 1 mile south of the ‘Divide’; water below this site runs into Medicine Lodge Creek thence into the Milk River and onward to the Missouri, Mississippi into the Gulf of Mexico. Water to the north of Eagle Butte empties into the South Saskatchewan River, Hudson Bay to the Atlantic. Summer ‘weather’ comes mainly from the S.W.; winter weather from the N.W.
The three mountain formations were holy to the Aboriginals. The Cypress Hills are also known as the Thunder Breeding Hills. The following bands frequented this area; Blackfoot, Blood, Piegan, Gros Ventre, Assiniboine, Cree, Crow and Sioux. This area was also a favourite resting/trading place for the Metis and White traders. It was part of the historic trade route from Fort Benton Montana (the head of steamboat travel on the upper Missouri) leading to Fort Battleford, North West Territories (now Saskatchewan) the then seat of Territorial government.
In 1873 American whiskey traders massacred 18 Assiniboine Aboriginals at Farwell’s trading post on Battle Creek about 40 kms east of here. This led to the formation of the North West Mounted Police and in 1874 the ‘Mounties’ marched across the southern plains and established Fort Macleod. In 1875 they built Fort Walsh near Farwell’s post. In 1877 Chief Sitting Bull and his Sioux warriors fled to the east Cypress Hills following the massacre of Col. George Custer and his men at the Battle of the Little Big Horn 1876.
Canon George McKay of the Church of England (now Anglican/Episcopal Church) held services at Fort Walsh in 1878. Regular church services were held in the Hills from 1883. Churches were built north of the Hills St. Anne, Josephburg (1897); St. Alban, Gros Ventre/Tothill (l904); St. George, Irvine (1907) and St. Margaret, Eagle Butte (1907). St Margaret’s was dedicated in June 1908.