On this day in 1876, Rev. George Millward McDougall died while on a buffalo hunt in an area that is now North West Calgary.
George was born in Kingston, Upper Canada on September 9, 1821. As a youth, George served during the rebellion of 1837 in the militia unit, the Royal Foresters and later he moved with his parents to a farm near Barrie. George attended Victoria College in Cobourg, and was ordained in June 1854. On 10 Jan. 1842, George married Elizabeth Chantler, and had eight children.
George helped to establish missions at Victoria Settlement, Whitefish Lake, Pigeon Lake and Edmonton House. In 1873, George and his son, John, chose a beautiful spot at a ford on the Bow River. It was here that they established a post and named it Morleyville.
George spent the last years of his life with the Stoney Nakoda. He played a large part in preparing the way for peaceful settlement of the plains and assisted in negotiations leading to Treaty 6 and Treaty 7. George was a strong advocate for Native peoples in their struggles to adapt to the rapidly changing circumstances of the 1860s and 1870s.
On January 25, 1876, while on a buffalo hunting trip to obtain much needed meat for the mission and his Stoney friends, George was separated from his hunting party. George rode ahead of his son toward their camp, a short distance of less than two miles, but he never arrived. It was unclear how an experienced outdoorsman very familiar with the area could become lost on such a clear night. They fired guns and friends turned out to search the area. A snowstorm impeded search efforts and his frozen body was not discovered until several days later. It is believed he died of exertion while hunting, or possibly heart attack, at the young age of 54. George was buried in the Wesley Cemetery, overlooking the McDougall Church in Morley. A cairn on Panora Way in NW Calgary marks the location of George’s death.
“There is something that strikes on all hearts in the spectacle of a great man's funeral. The hearse, the solemn march of the procession are both very impressive, and yet the subject of all this show may have been heedless of the great salvation, and if so, is now suffering the doom of a lost spirit”- Rev. George McDougall (written just 20 days before his death)