A funeral director and his assistant in Fernie, B.C., are trying to locate hundreds of forgotten graves in the city.

fernie bcFernie, B.C.

Funeral director John Gawryluk and his assistant Corlyn Haarstad have spent 12 years going through historical records. They believe the burial locations of 393 people who died in Fernie between 1889 to 1911 have been lost through the ages.

Haarstad says some of those people may be in St. Margaret's Cemetery in 171 unmarked graves.

"You have to consider this was miners," she said. "A single man would come here to Canada for a better life and send his money back home to his family."

Haarstad says historical records and survey maps show four long-forgotten burial sites throughout the city where graves may be located.

"The old timers in town or the people who once knew that [the graves] were there had passed on and in the day it was just not talked about."

Haarstad is hoping the city of Fernie will help her find the remains and protect the burial sites.

"These are the people that built this valley. If it weren't for these people who immigrated here and started raising their families here, we wouldn't be here," she said.

"We're just really hoping to get on board with the city to try and locate as many of these people as we can."

With files from the CBC's Brady Strachan