Teetł'it Zheh – “Place at the head of the waters”
The first community you’ll encounter when driving north on the Dempster, this friendly Gwich’in town is set in the rolling Richardson foothills along the Peel River, a popular paddling route. Don’t miss the famous Tent and Canvas shop, source of heavy-duty trapper’s tents, satchels and souvenirs, as well as the graves of the Lost Patrol – four Mounties who died en route to Dawson City in the terrible winter of 1911.
Elevation: 43 metres
Traditional name: Teet'lit Zheh – “At the head of the waters”
Named for: A Hudson Bay Company trader, Murdoch McPherson
Setting: On a bluff above the east bank of the Peel River, facing the Richardson Mountains
Languages: Gwich’in, English
Ethnicities: Dene (Teetl'it Gwich'in), non-Aboriginal
Getting here: Via the Dempster Highway from Dawson City, Yukon (eight hours) or Inuvik (two hours)
Founded In: For centuries this was a traditional meeting place for Gwich’in people. In 1849 John Bell, an explorer for the Hudson Bay Company, established a trading post along the lower Peel River, four miles up from where the community of Fort McPherson is now situated
Claim to fame: Was the starting point of the RCMP’s tragic 1910-11 “Lost Patrol,” where four Mounties bound for the Klondike starved and froze in the Richardson Mountains. Their tomb, and a memorial to them, is found in the local graveyard
Visit for: Purchasing locally made backpacks and other high-quality wilderness gear at the Fort McPherson Tent & Canvas shop; attending the Midway Lake Music Festival (early August)
Best expedition: Paddling the spectacular Peel River watershed
Notable locals: Mountie Francis Fitzgerald, who led the tragic Lost Patrol; John Tetlichi, the first Aboriginal member of the Territorial Council; Wally Firth, the first northern Aboriginal Member of Parliament; and Richard Nerysoo, the first Aboriginal Northwest Territories premier
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