ExploreNorth, your resource center for exploring the circumpolar North

Return to the Home Page The ExploreNorth Blog Arctic & Northern Books About ExploreNorth Contact ExploreNorth

Search ExploreNorth










Northern Cemeteries and Graves

A Guide to Fort McPherson (Teet'lit Zhen), NWT


Saint Mathew's Anglican Church Cemetery, Fort McPherson, NWT

by Murray Lundberg


Saint Mathew's Anglican Church Cemetery, Fort McPherson, NWT

    The original Saint Mathew's Anglican Church Cemetery is located in the southeast corner of Fort McPherson, accessed from Km 550.2 of the Dempster Highway. The only new burials now allowed there are for people related to those already interred there - for others, a new cemetery of the same name was opened in the northwest corner of the village.

    The Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) first arrived here in 1840. The post, 6 kilometers up the Peel River from the present community, was originally called Peel River House, but was soon named for Murdoch McPherson, the HBC's Chief Trader in the Mackenzie District. In 1848, due to frequent flooding, Fort McPherson was moved to its present location, on higher ground.

    We have not done any detailed work at the Saint Mathew's Anglican Church Cemetery yet, but FindaGrave.com has published photos taken in 2013 of most of the reported 149 interments at the Saint Mathew's Anglican Church Cemetery.






The Lost Patrol

The most famous burials at Fort McPherson are the 4 members of the Royal Northwest Mounted Police "Lost Patrol". On December 21, 1910, RNWMP Inspector Francis Joseph Fitzgerald, with Constable Richard O'Hara Taylor, Constable George Francis Kinney and their guide, Special Constable Sam Carter, left Fort McPherson on a patrol to Dawson, but never arrived. Their bodies were found in March, 1911, and all four were buried here on March 28, 1911. In 1938, the graves were cemented over into one large tomb, with cement posts at the four corners connected by a chain.

This photo was shot in July 1991.





By the time this photo was taken in July 2003, a flagpole had been added to the Lost Patrol memorial, and the church had been re-sided in white.





A child's grave, in July 1991.