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SOUTH PARK CEMETERY

History

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From “New Horizons” - page 800 (published with written permission granted by Lac Ste. Anne Historical Society and Trail Printing and Stationery Ltd., Edson)


South Park Cemetery, two kilometers south and two kilometers west of Sangudo, is on a parcel of land donated by Frank “Cougar” Wright Sr. in 1917. It is located on the bank of the Pembina River on the NE part of 26-56-7-W5, and originally contained 1.99 flat acres. It was operated by the municipality for many years and was sadly neglected, as were all country cemeteries in those days. The first caretaker was Scotty McHardy, Cougar’s son-in-law. Cougar’s grandson, Clint Lowry, took on the job when Scotty gave it up.   When Clint left the community in 1937, the job was passed on to his brother, Clifford, who was caretaker until he passed away in 20Lowry Headstone South Park Cemetery02. In 1984, one more acre of land on the west side was donated by Clifford and Gladys Lowry, and in 1992 one acre was donated by Joe and Grace Weiss to expand the South Park Cemetery parking lot.


Presently, the cemetery is operated by a nonprofit organization consisting of a president, secretary-treasurer, and several board members. Maintenance is primarily funded by the community through donations at funerals, and the sale of grave plots.



South Park Cemetery, A Lowry Legacy - by Mavis Lowry

From “New Horizons” - page 799 (published with written permission granted by Lac Ste. Anne Historical Society and Trail Printing and Stationery Ltd., Edson)


My father, Cliff Lowry, died peacefully at home April 10, 2002. His ashes are buried in the South Park Cemetery, a beautiful place on the Pembina River, located on a corner of the Lowry farm. There are not many people who are born, die, and laid to rest on the same piece of property. Dad would have been pleased with this situation. He always said he had no intention of leaving his farm. He didn’t.


In the early part of the 1900’s, Cliff’s grandfather and my great-grandfather, Frank “Cougar” Wright, donated a piece of land from the family farm for use as a community cemetery. The upkeep of this cemetery became a family responsibility that we Lowrys, for generations, have taken very seriously. In the family, the cemetery was not called South Park back them. It was just “our cemetery”. My grandmother, Pearl Lowry, Cliff’s mother, took me on charming walks through the cemetery, stopping to relate fascinating stories about the old timers. I especially like the one about Long Scotty. We picked wild flowers and put them on the grave of her daughter, Florence, the aunt I never met. My brother, Denny, would be sent up the hill to cut the grass with a scythe when a funeral was to be held. All male members of the family had to dig graJarvis Headstone South Park Cemeteryves. It was not a scary task. It was just family duty and a sociable time spent together. I know Denny sometimes talked his teenage friends into assisting in this assigned job. My parents taught us girls that we were to pick weeds at the cemetery if we had nothing else to do on a Saturday. There was to be no lolly-gagging about as long as there was work that could be done in “our cemetery”. And during Mom’s fire drills at home she made it very clear if there was ever a house fire, we were to grab the cemetery book and run outside. As children we knew the cemetery book was about the most important thing we had in the house. There was indeed a fire on October 1st, 1970, and the house burned down, but the cemetery book was saved.


Years after I left home and moved to Vancouver, Dad became a monument salesman and took his new small business to heart. He and my mother, Gladys, installed monuments in many local cemeteries, as well as South Park. He was a stickler for precision, and the perfect rows in South Park Cemetery exist in large part due to his sense on beauty and orderliness.


The annual cemetery clean-up day has become a tradition. On this day, faithful old-timers and a few newer folks come to plant flowers, pick weeds, cut grass and enjoy a country tea together. We don’t do fun things like this in Vancouver, but I feel grateful to know the cemetery is being so well cared for by the community-minded citizens back home.


In 2000 Dad donated another acre of land, which lies to the west of the cemetery. The South Park Cemetery committee looks after things now. Donations, generously given in memory of loved ones, support the cost of maintenance. The grass is now cut with power mowers and gravediggers use the new cemetery backhoe.


Grave digging South Park Cemetery

The cemetery map has become a computer file designed by Cliff’s grandson Skye. My brother, Denny, continues the family tradition of involvement in the maintenance and up-keep of the cemetery and its map. The cemetery is still a nostalgic place for me to visit. Although I live in Vancouver, I know my history is there, I remember all the stories. I can visit my grand-parents and now both my parents. In the 21st century I now tell my grandchildren stories of their family as we stroll through the place where our ancestors reside.



From “The Lantern Era” - page 101 (published with written permission granted by Lac Ste. Anne Historical Society and Trail Printing and Stationery Ltd., Edson)


On June 19, 1957, a meeting was called to organize a company to take over the business of the cemetery. Mr. Alex Kennedy, who was a former councillor and reeve for the M.D. of Northern 551, assured the interested parties that the municipality would be quite willing to turn the operations of it over to this citizen’s group. It was through this guidance that the present cemetery company was formed. Officers chosen were: Secretary and Caretaker, Clifford Lowry; Chairman of the Board, Frank Weiss; and Directors, Mr. Cecil Hansen (Manager), Mrs. Margaret Hansen, Mrs. Helen Heckel, Joe Weiss and Mrs. Karen Crothers. Since the death of Mrs. Heckel three more directors were added. They were Wilton Sides, Leslie Weidel and Ralph Eichhorn. Incorporation of a company was completed on May 7, 1959, and title was issued on August 21, 1959. The company was granted a final certificate of approval on January 6, 1960, from the Board of Health.


There have been a great many donations from private citizens, too numerous to mention. The B.P.O.E. of Sangudo has set up a Beautification Fund that has helped a great deal. Mr. Alex Kennedy has willed a sum of money, the interest of which is also used for funds. Help was hired to cut grass and plant flowers that have greatly benefited the appearance of the cemetery. The annual clean-ups are still held, which usually end up in a social get together with coffee and lunch. Willows and evergreens were planted on the south and west sides, and two pyramid concrete posts were erected on each side of the gate.


The name of the first person buried in the cemetery was that of Mr. Alfred Dickerson from St. Paul, who was killed while working on the railway, on Nov. 11, 1917. Mrs. Mark Campbell was the second one, buried on April 28, 1918. Her daughter, Isabella, who was buried on their farm before the cemetery was started, as often happened in those early days, was re-interred on April 29, 1918. Mrs. Jim Merrick and Georgina Waugh were also buried in 1918, followed by John Cochran and a Mrs. Follis, both of Sangudo, in 1919.


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