Peter Fidler

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Peter Fidler
Meadow Lake Saskatchewan 20.JPG
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, fur trader and explorer who had a long career in the employ of the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) 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 woman, 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]

Peter Fidler's map of Swan River posts
Peter Fidler's map of the Swan River and Upper Assiniboine River, 1795

In 1795, the London Committee of the HBC sent Fidler inland again, this time to map the area west of Lake Winnipegosis where Charles Thomas Isham[4] had built three posts - Swan River House, Marlborough House, and Somerset House. Fidler helped Isham establish another fort at Carlton House (Assiniboine River), not to be confused with Fort Carlton (Saskatchewan River) which is a National Historic Site. The following May, Fidler moved on to Buckingham House as surveyor.

He established Bolsover House (near Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan) in 1797;Greenwich House at Lac la Biche in 1799; Chesterfield House in 1800; and Nottingham House in 1802[5]. 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.

Fidler was surveyor and district manager at Brandon House between 1814-1819, including when the post was plundered by a group of men who days later would be involved in the Battle of Seven Oaks.

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.[6]


Peter Fidler statue Elk Point, Alberta
Peter Fidler plaque Elk Point, Alberta
Peter Fidler Plaque Photograph attribution Julia Adamson

Fidler Point on Lake Athabasca is named for Fidler.[7] 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.[8] 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 
  2. ^ Owram, Doug (1979). The formation of Alberta : a documentary history (PDF). Calgary: Alberta Records Publication Board. p. 17. 
  3. ^ Wishart, David J. (2004). "Fidler, Peter (1769-1822)". Encyclopedia of the Great Plains (3rd ed.). University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 0-8032-4787-7. 
  4. ^ Brown, Jennifer S.H. (1983). "Isham, Charles Thomas". In Halpenny, Francess G. Dictionary of Canadian Biography. V (1801–1820) (online ed.). University of Toronto Press. 
  5. ^ "Fidler, Peter" (PDF). Hudson's Bay Company Archives. September 2001. 
  6. ^ Kavanagh, Martin (November 2007) [1946]. The Assiniboine Basin. Manitoba Historical Society. p. 43. 
  7. ^ "Place Names". Alberta Land Surveyors' Association. 
  8. ^ "Peter Fidler Commemorative Monument". Association of Manitoba Land Surveyors. 

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