Tour introduces the history of Fort Macleod’s cemeteries

Twenty-one people braved a strong gale Thursday night to hear the story of Fort Macleod’s cemeteries.

Local historian George Kush also spoke about some of the earliest figures buried in the cemeteries during his presentation hosted by the Fort Macleod Library.

Kush explained that Fort Macleod’s first cemetery was located on the island in the Oldman River where the North West Mounted Police had their first fort.

When spring flooding proved to be a problem, the Royal Mounted Police were granted permission to move into what is now known as the 1884 North West Mounted Police Barracks Provincial Historic Site, at the west end of town.

A new cemetery has been created where the Subway Restaurant is located.

Eventually, the city of Fort Macleod was granted permission to establish Union Cemetery where it currently stands.

The Holy Cross Cemetery was also established at its current location at the same time.

Kush told people the location of the Union Cemetery pioneer area.

This area in the northern part of the cemetery contains the graves of early residents, including buffalo hunters, settlers, townspeople, and businessmen.

The wooden crosses and bollards have deteriorated from the elements and the identity of the people buried there has been lost over time.

Kush also explained that early Chinese residents of Fort Macleod were not allowed to be buried in Christian or Catholic cemeteries, due to prejudice at the time.

A section called “The Chinese Cemetery” was pointed out to those on the tour.

Kush spoke about some of the people buried in the cemetery, including legendary mounted police scout Jerry Potts and his son.

Kush also told the story of two North West Mounted Police officers who ignored the advice of elders and set off for Fort Kipp, only to be caught in a blizzard.

They were found frozen to death on the prairie when the storm subsided.

Another story involved a cowboy known as Fred the Ratter, who had indeed been employed by his parents in their rat-hunting business in England.

Kush has a wealth of information about the area and its people, but had to save much of it for another, hopefully quieter day.

People were invited to Stronghold Brewery to sample a special beer unveiled Thursday after the presentation.

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