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The RCMP's Lost Patrol

The Graves of the Lost Patrol
Saint Matthew's Anglican Church,
Fort McPherson, Northwest Territories


The Northwest Mounted Police began, in 1904, to dispatch patrols into the north to keep the law in the new frontier and to protect Canadian interests. Dog sled patrols were a new facet of Mounted Police life as the Force established remote outposts in these frontier territories.

On December 21, 1910 four men from the Northwest Mounted Police left Fort McPherson on routine patrol to Dawson City in the Yukon Territory, a distance of some 500 miles (800 kilometres). They carried mail and official communications. The patrol was led by Inspector Francis J. Fitzgerald, and included Constables G.F. Kinney, R.O.H. Taylor and a guide, Special Constable Sam Carter.

Failing to find their way through the mountains, the patrol turned back to Fort McPherson in a desperate race against cold and starvation. By late February, when they had still not arrived at their destination, a search party was organized and set out to find them. The expedition was headed by Corporal Dempster (for whom the highway is named) and accompanied by a noted Indian tracker.

The bodies of Taylor and Kinney, then Carter and Fitzgerald, were all found on March 21-22, 1911. They had been unable to locate the pass out of the delta over the Richardson Mountains, had run out of food, then inevitably had all frozen to death. They had come back to within 26 miles of the settlement at Fort McPherson. Today their remains rest in the cemetery at the Anglican Church there.

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