Seven Persons Cemetery Gate

Seven Persons Cemetery

Seven Persons in 1911 – Jason Woodhead, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Seven Persons is a hamlet in Cypress County, Alberta about 20 km southwest of Medicine Hat.

The first thing I wondered is how “Seven Persons” got its name. Most assume the hamlet was named after nearby Seven Person’s creek, which of course begs the question of how the creek got its name. There are a few legends about the origin of the creek’s name.

One holds that the area was the site of a clash between Blackfoot and Cree braves and seven Cree were killed. It’s not difficult to imagine who was telling this version of the story.

Another version, holds that while crossing the creek, a group of Blackfoot found seven unidentified bodies lying on the banks of the creek. The bodies were all bald, but not scalped and had no battle wounds. The group waited in the area for others to come to collect the bodies and while they did so the bodies remained fresh with no signs of decay.

After no one came to claim the bodies, the group decided to leave the bodies where they were, and surround each with stone cairns.

The following spring they returned to the spot and found that both the bodies and stones remained as exactly they’d left them, the bodies not at all decomposed. Ever since then the creek has been known as Seven Persons Creek.

Finally, yet another less “mythical” version holds that the creek was actually named after the small community of Seven Persons by a Canadian Pacific Railway tie gang. The town itself was named by this same gang who had come across seven rough graves not far from the tracks they were building.

As for the cemetery, well, it has definitely seen better days. But it is the unkept “wildness” of the small enclosure that gives it its character.

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How Seven Persons Got Its Name

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2 Comments

  1. I’ve always wondered how Seven Persons got it’s name. I have heard the railway story and I think it is the most likely source for the name. Of course it could have been a premonition about how many people would eventually live there. Were there more than seven graves?

    1. Hey Glen – there were more than seven graves, but not too many more. In an odd way I really liked that cemetery because it was so neglected. That meant it had some character and was so much easier to find the theme of impermanence that underlies most of the cemetery images I’ve taken. Thanks for the comment and take care!

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