A Tale of Two Tombstones -- 8000 miles Apart

In 1903, Sir James Hector returned to western Canada to revisit the scenes of his explorations nearly half a century before. He brought with him his son Douglas, and it is said that with high spirits he laughingly told people he met that he had come to see the place where he was almost buried alive - having awoken from unconsciousness after a fall from a horse to see that his men had already dug his grave.

There is a tragic irony to the story.

Shortly after his arrival, his son Douglas, became ill. The boy's condition grew worse and he was rushed to Revelstoke Hospital where he died from appendicitis. A granite block was placed on his son's grave.

It is thought that the block was cut from the same piece of granite used to commemorate his father's discovery of the Continental Divide on the Kicking Horse Pass.

Tragically, the spot where death had almost taken him 40 years before now took his son. Hector had always been a winner - having received awards from around the world for his service. Now, broken in spirit, he returned to New Zealand where he died.

And today, in Wellington, New Zealand almost 150 years after his awesome journey into the Canadian Rockies Sir James Hector's gravestone also lies -- broken.

Check here for the latest update on Hector's gravesite.

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Background Information on James Hector

Other Historic Journals by Explorers of the West

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