Union and Holy Cross Cemeteries, Fort MacLeod

On brushy, scraggy prairie set apart from the town of Fort MacLeod and hidden between a subdivision and a composting facility, you’ll find both the Union and Holy Cross Cemeteries.

The two cemeteries are side by each (literally touching each other), with the Union being the larger and more well known of the two. However, you can’t visit one without seeing the other and I’m assuming the two are separate only because of religious denomination (the Holy Cross is on consecrated ground).

In both, you will find many graves of the first NWMP officers, whiskey traders, and Fort MacLeod founding families. Also buried are two U.S. Civil War veterans, a Victoria Cross recipient (Harvey), and World War Canadian and Australian heroes.

The original wooden grave markers for people like Jerry Potts (scout who led the NWMP to Fort MacLeod), James Nash (first Mountie killed in the line of duty), NWMP officers Frank Baxter and Thomas Wilson (who died in a snowstorm in 1875) have all been removed and replaced with stone versions. The originals are found in the fort.

From a journal displayed with the wooden markers:

“… Denny had started down to Fort Kipp the evening before to get our letters and bring them up as soon as possible. He did not make his appearance tho’ until dark this evening (Jany 1st) and when he came he brought sad tidings. Wilson and Baxter, two men stationed at Fort Kipp, who had come up to camp on leave and started for Kipp again in the afternoon about three o’clock, had not yet arrived or at least Wilson had been found on the prairie half-frozen and Baxter not found at all. Their horses had, however, both come in…

It was found out that these men had, after leaving our camp, gone to one of the trader’s forts near us and had remained there until dark and then started off in the storm, got lost and died. It cast a gloom over our New Year’s festivities.

Then men were buried today at four in the afternoon; it was very cold, 18 degrees below zero with a cold north wind.” R.B. Nevitt, the first doctor at Fort MacLeod

1 comment on “Union and Holy Cross Cemeteries, Fort MacLeodAdd yours →

  1. Yes where can I confirm more about a headstone? My Aunt is there she was a very little girl and is buried in the middle of the Cemetery in 1919 with a Sheep on the monument and Cunningham on the base. MY grandparents owned the original Cunningham Hardware next to the Empress Theatre where McNab Realty has been for years? Kind Regards? M

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *