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.
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.
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.
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.