As mentioned in my previous post, the history of European settlement in Canada is not that old, since most ‘settlements’ were small forts and trading posts that mostly dealt with the fur trade and other natural resources (timber, fishing, and minerals, depending on where you were). But eventually even the nomadic fur traders began to marry and settle down, and small settlements began to evolve into what would become towns and cities in the Canadian Prairies. The Selkirk Settlement is one of these places, and the (mostly) Scottish settlers there created a burial ground in 1812, not long after they began to arrive and settle in the area. The first church was not built until 1820, so the cemetery preceded it by a few years. Over the next century, the church would be destroyed by fire or floods (a common problem in the Red River Valley) three times, but it was always rebuilt. The present cathedral is the fourth incarnation and dates back to 1926, when it was rebuilt with as many stones from the previous church as possible.
The cemetery is one of the oldest in the province of Manitoba, and the oldest marked grave is from 1832 (older graves were washed away in previous floods). There are many prominent Manitobans who are buried there, mostly politicians, archbishops, and businessmen. James A Richardson, a former minister of Pierre Trudeau’s government and local businessman, is buried there. I’m far too young to remember him, but I recognize the name well, for the Winnipeg airport is named after him.
The cemetery completely surrounds the cathedral and is very nice to walk around. Like most cemeteries in Canada, there aren’t many grand monuments or statues, but it is interesting to wander and read the epitaphs on the older gravestones. Unfortunately I didn’t have as much time to wander here as I would have liked, given the historical significance of both the cemetery and the cathedral, but I’m sure I’ll be able to visit it again on one of my future visits home.
Monuments: Nice, older monuments, not many statues, but the graves tell the story of a particular part of Manitoba history.
Grounds: Fairly flat and easy to walk around. The grounds are well-maintained, but the grass was a bit long and full of dew the morning I went.
Visitors: None while I was there.
Notes: Lots of trees create dappled light on sunny days, using a flash would help to illuminate statues more clearly.
Cemetery: Cathedral (and cemetery) of St. John
Established: first burials in the area around 1812 but the first official burial in this cemetery is from 1821.
Notable Internments: James A. Richardson, several Lieutenant Governors, archbishops, senators, and military men
Location: 135 Anderson Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Hours: between 8:00-16:30 if I recall correctly
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