Fort Garry Roman Catholic Cemetery History
Fort Garry RC Cemetery is the parochial cemetery of St Vital Parish and is located at 826 Crescent Drive in Winnipeg, Manitoba along the banks of the Red River. It has a long and interesting history if one can judge by the names and dates engraved on the headstones. Some dates go back as far as 1914. It is of interest to note that this cemetery has occupied this location only since 1929. The first cemetery was in existence between the years 1914-1929. According the obituary appearing in the publication “Le Manitoba” dated May 27, 1914, Mme Anastasie Nault was the first person to be buried in that first parochial cemetery.
Recorded history of the Parish indicates that “the cemetery was quite a distance from the Church and was inaccessible in wet weather” and so in 1928, Rev. Father J. Bertrand the Parish priest, approached the RM of Fort Garry to have the road to the cemetery improved. The Council at the time decided that it would be too costly to build a road and so agreed on a land swap with the Parish. So after some deliberation and along with a “few dollars”, the Parish obtained the present location on Crescent Drive in exchange. Eliza Perreault was the first person to be buried in the new cemetery on December 4th, 1928. The courts granted permission for removal of the bodies in the Spring of 1929. The Winnipeg Free Press issue of September 9, 1934 states that Archbishop of Winnipeg, Alfred A. Sinnott consecrated the new cemetery grounds and blessed the large central white cross.
The Cemetery is host to the remains of many prominent pioneers of the early St Vital Parish and later the RM of Fort Garry. The names include Andre Nault – who stopped the surveyors in 1869 and invited Louis Riel into the discussion. Andre was also instrumental in the Louis Riel resistance, manning the barrier in St Norbert. The Union Nationale Metisse would stop yearly on their pilgrimage to Louis Riel’s grave and pay their respects at Andre’s graveside in Fort Garry RC Cemetery. Other historic names that appear on our headstones include Perreault, Carriere, Laurence, Richot, Plouffe and Hamelin.
Learn more about the history of St. Vital Parish and the Fort Garry Roman Catholic Cemetery in, “A Church on the Move”, the first of a series of articles written by Louise Scatliff.