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No Graves Found On Whitehorse Lots Slated For Development

An article from CBC North

Yukon archaeologists have confirmed vacant lots next to the Pioneer Cemetery in downtown Whitehorse were not used as a burial site.

A city survey had suggested the property contained a number of unmarked graves.

Christian Thomas, a development assessment archaeologist for the Yukon Government, says the nine spots in question in a Whitehorse vacant lot slated for development were dug up and no graves were found. (CBC)

“We hired an excavator from Arctic Backhoe and we dug up the nine [ground penetrating radar] hits the city had commissioned and we didn’t find anything there,” said Christian Thomas, a development assessment archaeologist for the Yukon Government.

“We dug every hole down to about eight feet so we are as confident as we could be right now those lots were never used for a cemetery.”

The Yukon government plans to build an expansion to the Sarah Steele addictions treatment facility on the lots.

Archaeologists and geologists will continue to map the Pioneer Cemetery and define its boundaries. Further mapping will allow city planners to develop trails and parkland around the historic cemetery.

“We won’t be able to ID all the unmarked graves but if they want to maintain a bit of a public space within the cemetery, areas without bodies can be those places,” Thomas said.

Historical records suggest there are more than 600 unmarked graves in the Pioneer Cemetery.