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Northern Cemeteries and Graves

Yukon Peace Officer Honour Roll

A Guide to Dawson City, Yukon


The Royal Canadian Mounted Police Cemetery at Dawson City, Yukon

by Murray Lundberg


The RCMP Cemetery at Dawson City, Yukon

    In May 1873, the Parliament of Canada established a central police force, and sent 150 recruits west to Manitoba. The new police force gradually acquired the name "North-West Mounted Police" (NWMP). In 1904, King Edward VII conferred the title of "Royal" upon the North-West Mounted Police (thus, the RNWMP), to honour members' service in the Boer War. On February 1, 1920, the RNWMP merged with the Dominion Police, a federal police force with jurisdiction in eastern Canada, to become the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). A few NWMP officers arrived in the Yukon in July 1895, 13 months before the big gold discovery that led to the Klondike Gold Rush. Within 2 years, there were over 250 officers stationed in the Yukon. The Yukon Field Force (YFF) was established in 1898 to assist the NWP, and remained in the Yukon until 1900.

    There are 2 other RCMP cemeteries in Canada, the RCMP Depot Cemetery at Regina ("Depot" is the RCMP training headqarters), and the RCMP National Memorial Cemetery in Ottawa.

The main monument and all 19 graves have been photographed and posted here:






NWMP / RNWMP / RCMP Monument

In 1898, the death of Constable Henry Dundas of the Northwest Mounted Polce (NWMP) necessitated the establishment of a cemetery for the NWMP in Yukon. It was decided the cemetery would be in Dawson City as this was the Yukon Headquarters for the NWMP. A 40' x 43' plot of land was selected in the Hillside Cemetery.

Police funerals are rich in tradition and ceremony. Police officers in their ceremonial uniform carry out their duties with military precision and reverence. The burial ceremony pays tribute and shows respect to those deceased members for their service to the community, the RCMP, and Canada.

The RCMP Cemetery was rededicated on Septemer 14th, 2002. Over 50 RCMP officers from across Canada and the Alaska State Troopers participated in the Memorial Service and Regimental Ball. The ceremony was held to reaffirm the respect of serving and veteran police officers for those who have gone before.

Today, the RCMP Cemetery continues to be a permanent memorial dedicated to the police officers interred here.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police
"M" Division
2013





N.W.M.P.

Const. George Bull
Reg. No. 3365

Died October 10, 1899 (the year on the headboard is incorrect)
Age 25

From the 1899 Annual Report: "I feel sorry at this juncture to have to refer to two deaths among our men, Reg. No. 3365, Constable Bull, sent in from the outside, was admitted on September 26, suffering from typhoid fever, and died suddenly from perforation of the bowel on October 10."





N.W.M.P.

Const. J. H. Burns
Regimental No. 3485

Died September 3, 1903
Age 25 yrs. 10 mos.

Died of acute pyaemia (blood poisoning) following an operation on "an abscess of the chest". Cst. Burns was noted in the Annual Report as having "rendered valuable services in bringing the murderers Labelle and Fournier to justice."





Serg. Albert J. Cudlip
Regimental No. 589
Son of Hon. J. W. Cudlip
And beloved husband of Annie Cudlip

Born 1864
Died March 15, 1907

A place is vacant in our hearts that never can be filled

From the 1907 Annual Report: "The death of Reg. No 589 Sergeant A. J. Cudlip, as a result of an accident at Forty Mile, in March last, was particularly sad. He was married and living with his wife at the detachment at that place. Coming home one evening he slipped and fell off a foot bridge over the slough, striking his head on the ice below. He was unconscious when picked up and never rallied, passing away the next day. The funeral took place in Dawson and was one of the largest I have seen here. Sergeant Cudlip was one of our oldest non-commissioned officers in point of service and a man of splendid physique. He was one we could ill afford to lose, a credit to the force in every way and respected by all who knew him." He had been in charge of the Forty Mile detachment for over 2 years.





N.W.M.P.

Const. F. H. Donnelly
Regimental No. 1959

Died October 29, 1898
Age 31

From the 1898 Annual Report: "I regret to refer to the death of Reg. No. 1959, Constable Donnelly, which occurred on 28th October from typhoid fever, he had a relapse after being out and around for several days."





N.W.M.P.

Const. Henry Dundas
Regimental No. 2793

Died August 5, 1898
Age 28

The headboard is incorrect - the force was still the N.W.M.P. when Cst. Dundas died.

From the 1898 Annual Report: "A few days after my arrival [at Fort Herchmer, Dawson, on 12th July] Reg. No. 2793, Constable Dundas, was sent down from Stewart River ill with typhoid fever, and after three weeks sickness I regret to record his death on the 5th August. He had had an attack of scurvy during the previous spring."





R.N.W.M.P.

Const. Michael J. Fitzgerald
Regimental No. 3617

Died August 27, 1913
Age 37

From the 1913 Annual Report: "August, 1913 - It is with deep regret that I have to report the death by drowning in the White river of Reg. No. 3617, Constable Fitzgerald. M. J. Fitzgerald was on his way to the new detachment at Donjek on the steamer Vidette, in charge of a horse. When about six miles up the White river he went to assist the crew use a sweep to swing the barge around. The sweep caught in some 'sweepers,' knocking him off the barge into the water. Boats were at once lowered and he was picke dup, floating face downwards. Every possible effort was made to resuscitate him but to no avail. The accident occurred on the 27th. Constable Fitzgerald was buried with military honours on the 31st."





N.W.M.P.

Special Constable Edward Flett

Died February 15, 1899
Age 20

Although the headboard indicates that Flett was a regular member of the force, the 1899 Annual Report states that he was a Special Constable (which involves much less training): "On February 12, Special Constable Flett was brought down from Halfway, suffering from phthisis [pulmonary tuberculosis or a similar progressive systemic disease]. The disease having reached a very advanced stage, he died on the 15th of the same month."

The Dawson Cemeteries Walking Tour brochure says: "Edward joined the Northwest Mounted Police January 18, 1898 as a Special Constable for 'pay at the rate of $30 a month with rations and a bonus of $10 per month if found satisfactory.'"





N.W.M.P.

Const. J. Gatnett

Died September 1898

FindAGrave.com says: "John 'Jack' Garnett is the only civilian buried in the R.C.M.P. Cemetery. The name Gatnett on his gravemarker is an incorrect transcription of the old gravemarker on his gravesite. Also incorrect, it would seem, is his designation as a Constable when he was in fact a civilian." At ExploreNorth, we're not quite convinced yet, though John 'Jack' Garnett is listed as an Alberta pioneer who died in the Yukon in 1897. We have not found any mention of him in any NWMP Annual Report, although the 1899 report notes a John Garnet dying in the police hospital on September 12th from typhoid fever and complications.





R.C.M.P.

Const. John Patrick Hartnett

Died September 7, 1936
Age 28

Cst. Hartnett drowned in the Yukon River at Carmacks when his canoe overturned. See a news report here.





R.N.W.M.P.

Sergt. A. L. Holmes
Regimental No. 2373

Died January 12, 1905
Age 41

From the 1905 Annual Report: "I regret to record the death of Reg. No. 2373, Sergt. A. L. Holmes, which occurred on January 12, he being at the time in charge of the Forty Mile detachment. Though not very well for some days, he attached no importance to the indisposition. On the night of his death after resting on his bed, another member of the detachment being also in the room, he attempted to rise to go out and fell back on the bed, dying in a few moments from heart disease."





N.W.M.P.

Sergt. N. W. Jackson
Regimental No. 3058

Died January 29, 1902
Age 34

From the 1902 Annual Report: "On the 29th inst., Reg. No. 3058 Sergt. W. H. Jackson committed suicide in front of the division latrine by shooting himself with a Government revolver. Sergt. Jackson had been in charge of the night guard, and those who were on duty with him had not noticed anything particularly wrong during the night. Inspt. McDonell held an investigation on the afternoon of the same date, and gave his decision that it was a case of deliberate suicide. No cause could be assigned for Sergt. Jackson committing such a rash act."





N.W.M.P.

Corporal T. Johnson
Regimental No. 2659
Tagish Post, Y.T.

Died August 11, 1900
Age 32

Corporal Johnson and Constable John O'Brien drowned in the Tagish River when their canoe overturned near the police wharf. Corporal Johnson's body was recovered on September 2nd, about 6 miles from the post, and was initially buried at Tagish.





N.W.M.P.

Constable John O'Brien
Regimental No. 3664
Tagish Post, Y.T.

Died August 11, 1900
Age 22

Constable O'Brien and Corporal T. Johnson drowned in the Tagish River when their canoe overturned near the police wharf. Constable O'Brien's body was recovered on September 4th, about 2½ miles from the post, and was initially buried at Tagish.





N.W.M.P.

Const. William Lerch Purser
Regimental No. 3161

Died October 23, 1899
Age 26

From the 1899 Annual Report: "Reg. No. 3161, Constable W. L. Purser, was admitted to hospital on August 28, with [typhoid fever], and died on October 23 of rapid consumption."





R.N.W.M.P.

Cst. William F. Richards
Regimental No. 2155

Died February 13, 1907
Age 41

From the 1907 Annual Report: "...during a fit of temporary insanity, [Const. Richards, 'an old hand'] shot himself through the head at the Dominion detachment on February 13."





R.N.W.M.P.

Sergt. E. J. J. Smith
Regimental No. 2914

Died October 7, 1911
Age 55

The date on the headboard is incorrect - his death is noted in the 1911 Annual Report: "I regret to report the death, on the 7th October last, from a complication of diseases, of Reg. No. 2914 Sergt. Smith E. He was buried with military honours."





R.C.M.P.

Staff Sergeant Valarian Richard "Dick" Vitt
Regimental No. 20021

Born September 14, 1938
Died January 1, 2000, in Winnipeg.

Dick joined the RCMP in June 1957, and after his first posting in Terrace, BC, spent most of his career north of 60, in Inuvik, Old Crow, Faro, Ross River, Herschel Island, Frobisher Bay, Resolute Bay, and Grise Fiord. In April 1968, he ran the last RCMP dog sled patrol in the eastern Arctic, a distance of 740 miles. He never married.





Yukon Field Force (Y.F.F.)

Cpl. M. W. Watson

Died March 28, 1900

From the 1900 NWMP Annual Report: "On March 27, 1900, Corporal Watson of the Yukon garrison accidently shot himself in the stomach. He died the following morning at 7:30 [about 9 hours after the accident]. The jury severely censured the papers of Dawson for having published this as a case of suicide. The facts of the case were brought out at the inquest."





R.N.W.M.P.

Const. Alfred Wright

Died October 11, 1906
Age 35

From the 1906 Annual Report: "On October 11 a man named Alfred Wright committed suicide in the Prospector hotel, Dawson, by shooting himself in the head. An inquest was held, the jury returning a verdict of suicide while temporarily insane. This man was an ex-member of the force, having purchased his discharge last summer."