There is no recorded date of the establishment of the Elgin Cemetery. According to the November 2, 1900 issue of the “Public Opinion” (Elgin’s first newspaper), “there was agitation for a cemetery because people are being buried in a field north of town or in other towns”. Google says the cemetery was established in 1903. It is shown on a map of the town which, unfortunately, is not dated.
From “The Echoes of Elgin”, the first cemetery board was appointed in 1917, consisting of Chairman – W.T. Draper, Secretary – A.E. Wilson, R.J. Moffat, John Dodds, and F.R. Ross. At a public meeting on November 10, 1925, Council was authorized to purchase land from Mr. McEwan. At the same meeting, it was noted that a committee was needed to maintain the Memorial Plot; thus, the Cemetery and Memorial Improvement Committee was formed. Those members were: Dr. Lee, T.H. Reid, A. Biggins, T.H. Barber, and W.T. Kerslake.
There are references in the December 11, 1902 “Elgin Lancet” of the burial of Mr. John Griffith in the Elgin Cemetery and, on February 12, 1903, the burial of Clara Matilda Tufts and, on July 30, 1903, the burial of Sarah Dashney.
In the beginning, plots were to be maintained by the family. A mower was purchased in 1947 and a caretaker hired to maintain the Cemetery and Memorial Plot. At that time, a levy of 1 mil on assessment was requested.
A “Perpetual Care Fund” has been established in order to maintain the cemetery. Donations can be made to the Elgin Cemetery Fund and may be sent to Municipality of Grassland, Box 399, Hartney MB, R0M0X0. Charitable donation receipts will be issued. Interest from the fund is used for maintenance. Contractors are currently hired to do the mowing and trimming. This has resulted in the cemetery being kept evenly mowed and trimmed at all times.
The writer knows from family lore that two graves were moved from Souris to Elgin, probably in the 1920’s. Jas. Dodds died in 1897 at his homestead on 35-05-21 and was buried in Souris. His sister, Margaret Jordan, died in 1896 and was also buried in Souris. They are now in the Dodds plot in Elgin.
The current (as of September 2017) Cemetery Board members are: Chairman – Don Arnold, Secretary/Treasurer – Allan Halliday, Harold Maguire, Leslie Larson, Jeremy Robbins, Gary Robbins, and Municipal Council Representative – Bob Miller.
Researched by Margie Robbins
The municipality has established a “Perpetual Care Fund” for the upkeep and care of the Minto Cemetery. Donations are administered by the municipality and interest from the investment is used for maintenance of the cemetery.
Donations to this fund may be sent to Municipality of Grassland, Box 399, Hartney MB, R0M 0X0 and charitable donation receipts will be issued.
The Lauder cemetery was established in 1900. Maintenance of this cemetery is managed and performed by a local cemetery committee. A map, guestbook, and other pertinent visitor info is found inside the entrance. Donations for upkeep and beautification are greatly appreciated and may be sent to the Municipality of Grassland, Box 399, Hartney MB, R0M 0X0. Interestingly, because the railway was laid prior to the establishment of the Lauder Cemetery, the headstones face away from the railway, which was angled, rather than facing due east as is normal for cemeteries.
This cemetery was established in 1888.
Riverside Cemetery, Hartney
This cemetery was established in 1894.
The community of Melgund was like hundreds of small early communities (later school districts) but it did play a brief role as a somewhat more regional center before the arrival of the CPR and the associated communities of Hartney and Lauder. There was a post office established in 1882 on the farm of W.J. Higgins and people from a wide area gave their address as Melgund post office. Church services were held in local homes served by itinerant ministers of varying denominations but in 1887 a Methodist parsonage for a resident minister was built west of Melgund school. For fourteen years after Lauder was established, it had no Methodist church as Lauder parishioners were considered part of the congregation at Melgund church.
Prior to the establishment of cemeteries, burials, when necessary, usually took place at the residence of the deceased. A number of these locations are known. The cemetery at Melgund was the first in what would later be the RM of Cameron. It was established in 1887 to accommodate the burial of Agnes Cook, mother-in-law of J.M. Fee who was one of the area’s two first settlers and who was later the first reeve of the RM of Cameron. Melgund cemetery accommodated all Protestant denominations and was followed a year later by the establishment of the Catholic Cemetery in Grande Clairiere. With the arrival of the railway, towns were established in Hartney and Lauder and cemeteries were established there (Hartney in 1894 and Lauder in 1900). A few of the deceased at Melgund were subsequently disinterred and moved to the newer cemeteries and the old cemetery fell into disuse and disrepair.
No cemetery records are known to exist. Funeral records are available for all the Methodist services but other denominations, especially Presbyterians, are known to have used the cemetery although no other church records have been found. Further information about burials there have been located in newspaper files, personal diaries and from verbal information. There are eight headstones at the site, twenty two named individuals are known or believed to have been buried there and judging by physical evidence of depressions, etc., there are probably about thirty graves on the site. Many would have had wooden markers that have since disappeared or they simply had no marker at all.
The cemetery was not maintained and was nearly impossible to mow or otherwise maintain because of the random placement of graves, the falling headstones and the undulating depressions. In 2002, the RM of Cameron, through correspondence, obtained permission from modern-day descendants or relatives of the deceased (many of whom were unaware of their connection) to relocate the headstones to a common base and restore the site so that it can now be properly maintained. Hopefully it has become a more fitting memorial to those who have lain there so long.