Garth Cemetery - Rocky Mountain House - Hiking Alberta


Garth Cemetery contains a dichotomy of information along Hwy 11a west of Rocky Mountain House in Alberta, Canada.


Garth Cemetery, Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, Canada


On the flawed drive from Rocky Mountain House to the Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site Visitor Centre, the Garth Cemetery is along the alternate route to the Historic Site Campground, and a mental note reminds to visit on return at day's end.  There is a small gravel pullout which will accommodate a few small cars adjacent to paved Highway 11A.

The name Garth can be attributed to John McDonald of Garth who was born in December of 1771 at Garth, Perthshire, England.  John emigrated to Canada in 1791 and obtained a position as a clerk with the Northwest Company.

His flamboyant and controversial nature is legendary and his indelible mark lives on in Alberta as an accomplished farmer and fur trader who participated in the ongoing industry established at the Northwest Company fort in 1799. 

His exploits and notoriety are far too numerable to include here but fascinating, quality information is available online by searching John McDonald of Garth.  John McDonald passed away on January 25, 1866 near Cornwall, Ontario.


Garth Cemetery, Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, Canada


Garth Cemetery is a small cemetery, originally a triangular parcel of 1.06 acres with trustees listed as John C. Allen and Mabel Brierley. 

There is a pyramidal stone tower at the 4th historic fort honoring Mabel Brierley's donation of land for establishment of present day exhibits.  The cemetery has been expanded twice to its present day size of 2.5 acres on a rectangular piece of land.


Garth Cemetery, Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, Canada


Maps show a location for Garth near Hwy 11a between Rocky Mountain House and Ferrie.  Respectfully wandering among the grave sites reveals the reverse of a recent impressive headstone for a member of the Gray family which catches the attention. A presence here on this day is distinctly palpable.


Garth Cemetery, Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, Canada


Within the list of 26 interments found on Find a, there is an entry for Jane Sales.  There is a marker for Jane Soles with coinciding dates so one of the surname references is incorrect.

The small marker is nearly overgrown and it takes only a moment to clear away some of the accumulated debris. 


Garth Cemetery, Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, Canada


The most touching moment is at a fairly recent burial site where the granite marker has not yet been placed.  An arrangement of small stones forms the name 'Mom'.  The image tugs at the heart strings.


Garth Cemetery, Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, Canada


Within brief research, there were more anomalies than would normally be found.  No doubt many questions could be clarified with further in-depth research.  It would be interesting to hear from family members concerning the origin and naming of the Garth Cemetery and present interments​.

Photographs for this post on the Garth Cemetery, near the Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site in Alberta, Canada, were captured on Sunday, July 19, 2015 in late afternoon.