Peter Fidler (explorer)

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Peter Fidler
Plaque to Peter Fidler erected in Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan
Born (1769-08-16)August 16, 1769
Bolsover, Derbyshire, England
Died December 17, 1822(1822-12-17) (aged 53)
Fort Dauphin, Manitoba
Occupation Explorer and Map Maker
Spouse(s) Mary Fidler
Children Thomas (1795), Charles (1798), George (1800), Sally (1802), Decusroggan (1824 - died at 24 days), Andrew (1806), Alban (1809), Mary (1811), Faith (1813 - died at 6 weeks), Clement (1814), Colette (1817), Margaret (1819 - died at 1 month), Peter (1820), Harriett (1822)
Parent(s) James and Mary Fidler

Peter Fidler (16 August 1769 – 17 December 1822) was a British surveyor, map-maker, chief fur trader and explorer who had a long career in the employ of the Hudson's Bay Company in what later became Canada. He was born in Bolsover, Derbyshire, England and died at Fort Dauphin in present day Manitoba. He married Mary Mackagonne, a Cree, and together they had 14 children.


Fidler joined the Hudson's Bay Company as a labourer at London and took up his post at York Factory in 1788.[1] He was promoted to clerk and posted to Manchester House and South Branch House in what later became Saskatchewan within his first year. In 1790, he was transferred to Cumberland House and given training in surveying and astronomy by Philip Turnor who also trained David Thompson. On 23 December 1788, Thompson had seriously fractured his leg, forcing him to spend the next two winters at Cumberland House convalescing which gave Fidler the opportunity to accompany Turnor on an exploration expedition to the west from 1790 to 1792 attempting to find a route to Lake Athabaska[2] and Great Slave Lake and therefore a route to the Pacific Ocean. Although the river route to the west his employer sought was found not to exist, on this and following expeditions Fidler gathered data for the first of several maps that he produced. Information he gathered was incorporated into the maps of North America produced by Aaron Arrowsmith.[3] :229

During his years with the company, Fidler established Carlton House in 1795 (near present day Kamsack, Saskatchewan) and Chesterfield House in 1800. He was in charge of Cumberland House from 1796. In 1797, he established Bolsover House (near Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan) and Greenwich House at Lac la Biche. In 1806, after two years of harassment by Samuel Black of the rival North West Company, Fidler surrendered Nottingham House on Lake Athabasca and fled the post with his men.

In his will he requested that anything remaining from his other bequests be placed in a fund and the interest be allowed to accumulate until August 16, 1969, at which time the whole would be paid to the next male heir in descent from his son Peter. As of 1946 this fund could not be located.[4]


Peter Fidler Plaque Photograph attribution Julia Adamson

Fidler Point on Lake Athabasca is named for Fidler.[5] There is a large carved monument to Fidler at Elk Point, Alberta and a monument to his legacy at Fort Dauphin created by the Manitoba Land Surveyors.[6] In his home town of Bolsover, there is a local nature reserve containing a monumental cairn named after him.



  1. MacGregor, James G. (1998), Peter Fidler, Canada's Forgotten Explorer 1769-1822 (3rd ed.), Calgary: Fifth House, ISBN 1-894004-19-1<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Owram, Doug (1979). The formation of Alberta : a documentary history. Calgary: Alberta Records Publication Board. p. 17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Wishart, David J. (2004), Encyclopedia of the Great Plains (3rd ed.), Lincoln, Nebraska: U of Nebraska Press, ISBN 0-8032-4787-7<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Martin Kavanagh,"The Assiniboine Basin",1946, page 43
  5. Alberta Land Surveyors' Association, Alberta's Land Surveying History, retrieved 2008-05-19<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Association of Manitoba Land Surveyors, Peter Fidler Commemorative Monument, retrieved 2008-05-19<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links