James Colvin was one of the members of 'F' troop who founded Fort Calgary in 1875. He rests in an unmarked grave situated approximately in the center of the photo. The following is a quote from his obituary which appeared in The Calgary Herald in June of 1885.
""It is with the sincerest regret that we have to record in the events of the week that has passed, the death of James Colvin, book-keeper for G.C. King & Co., which occurred in Calgary on Monday morning last. Mr. Colvin's many friends both here and at Macleod,and throughout the whole district, will not be surprized at the announcement, as his health has been known to be failing for some weeks, but few of them expected it so soon.
"The death of a man, of whom it can be said that he had no enemies and all who knew him respected and loved him, is regretable enough, but when he is in the prime of life, happily placed and happily married, in view of a competency for the rest of his days, and begining to reap the fruits of many years hard work, it is especially to be regretted.
"Mr. Colvin came to the Northwest from Toronto to join the Mounted Police in 1875. No one ever heard him speak of his people who are believed to live in the old country, but when in Ontario he was a conductor on the G.T.R. When he joined the force in 1875 G.C.King, Joe Butlin and James Carroll, all well known in Calgary, were in the force. Mr. Colvin was stationed first at Macleod, but when Fort Calgary was built in September of that year, he was stationed with Mr. King and Capt. Brisbois at this point. In the Spring of 1876 he was made a corporal by Capt. Crozier and Asst. Commissioner Irvine.
"In the early part of 1877, during the war with the American Sioux he accompanied the force to Cyprus. Capt. Crozier always thought a great deal of him as did every force to Cyprus. Capt. Crozier always thought a great deal of him as did every officer in the force with whom he came in contact, and it was due to Crozier that he was presently appointed staff serjeant(sic); a position he held till 1881 when he left the force.
"While at Cyprus, Mr. Colvin had been appointed acting Indian agent, and after leaving the police he remained in that position. In 1882 he gave up the position to take that of supply officer to the C.P.R. construction under Engineer Perry. In 1883 the department was removed to Calgary to the site of the present Colvin homestead.
"Whenthe railway passed Calgary, and the Perry department was broken up, he took a position as book-keeper and confidential clerk to Mr. King, which position he remained in to his death. In the same year, 1883, he married, his wife and one child surviving him.
"Last March he began to complain of ill health and two doctors pronounced it an affliction of the heart. It was not till three weeks ago that he made up his mind to go east for a change and went as far as Winnipeg. While there he consulted Dr. Jones, but nothing could be done for him, and he finally made up his mind to return home.
"On Sunday last he arrived by train in a dying condition and was immediately taken home by members of the Oddfellows order to which he belonged. A few hours later he died.
"The Oddfellows took the arrangements for the funeral in their own hands and at their suggestion he was given a temporary resting place in a corner of Geo. Hamiltons homestead until a public cemetery has been secured by the town. He was buried on Tuesday, Mr. Dyke reading the service in the presence of a large number of friends.
"He was only 38 years old at the time of his death, 10 of those years having been passed in this country, and a better, more kindly fellow and faithful friend would be hard to
The author of these words, George Clift King, was Colvin's employer and former comrad in the North West Mounted Police. King also rests in an unmarked grave just South of Colvin's.
Special thanks go to Mr. James Morrison (Colvin's great grandson) of Lethbridge for bringing James Colvin to my attention. James Colvin's grave had been lost and forgotten, but together we were able to locate it and give the sergeant his due.
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Click here to read a follow-up story on the unmarked graves of James Colvin and George Clift King