GRAND VALLEY CEMETERY

(R.M. of Willow Bunch #42) – (1911 to 2023)

The Grand Valley Church and Cemetery are situated on land which, as of December 5, 1912, formed part of the Theodore Moe homestead. It is unclear as to exactly when or how the grounds became the property of the Lutheran Church, whether by purchase or as a gift, however, it is known that the Lutheran congregation was organized by Pastor Mons O. Waldahl on July 27, 1911. Also, that the first interment at this site, that of baby Emile Kabrud, took place in 1909; the most recent burial is listed in the Master File. Centennial celebrations for the Church & Cemetery took place on site July 24, 2011, with numerous people in attendance.

The Church, whose name was derived from the valley that runs along the north side of the church yard, was constructed in 1916, with a bell-cast spire on top of the steeple, typical of a number of Lutheran Churches in Sask. The windows and doors reflect the traditional Gothic style favoured by many prairie churches of all denominations. The legal description of the church is “Norwegian Lutheran Church of Canada, Title #102831072.” Prior to construction of the church, summer services were held in the loft of the barn on the Kabrud farm, and during winter services were held in member’s homes. The inside of the church remained unfinished for several years and when it was needed for meetings the inside was decorated with green branches, leaves, and moss. After synod boundaries were established, services were held every three weeks and if a clergy stayed over, accommodations were made available in private homes. By 1959, Viceroy, Verwood & Grand Valley became a three point parish sharing a pastor and the congregation was served from the parsonage in Verwood. Since 1961, the congregation continued meeting for a time at the Anglican Church in Scout Lake, then St. Allan’s Anglican and Wesley United in Rockglen, phasing out the parish about 1994.

Grand Valley Church was never updated with electrical power or water, so for special occasions these were provided by nearby homes, and in winter services were held in homes as it cost too much to heat the church. Though not adorned with fancy chandeliers, stained glass windows, or gold plated altars, the church was a welcoming place to all and there are still occasional weddings, baptisms and funerals held in the Grand Valley Church. At first Norwegian was used for services, but starting in the 1920s this gradually changed to English with the alternating of languages every other Sunday. The Confirmation celebration in 1929 was the last service to be held in Norwegian. Some of the original customs for church services included ladies sitting in the left side pews, while the men sat on the right. Hats were a must for the ladies, and no matter how hot it got on a prairie summer Sunday, the men were not allowed to remove their dress-coats or ties. Alas, due to a declining membership the congregation closed their country church in 1964.

The edifice was declared a Heritage Site on March 5, 1984, but the designation was not formally entered on the title until August 23, 2005 due to an oversight. About 1986/87, the church was completely restored and painted. Trees were also planted and a new all-around fence erected. In 2009, the church roof was re-shingled and in 2011 the outside was again painted along with a portion of the interior. The church and cemetery are well maintained through the support of many generous people who donate time and funds each year.

This cemetery is situated — from Willow Bunch — seven miles south on Highway #36, 11 miles west on a grid-road, then one and a quarter miles north on the side road. The cemetery is located immediately south of the Grand Valley Church.

LAND LOCATION: the SE 1/4 of Sec. 19, Tp. 4, Rg. 29, W2nd, in the R.M. of Willow Bunch #42.

The books for this cemetery are kept by Debbie Miller who resides on the SW ¼ of Sec. 5, Tp. 4, Rg. 29, W2nd. Phone #476-2739. They’re also accessible in albums at the Willow Bunch Museum and on the Internet at www.willowbunch.ca .

Those people listed in the Master File with “Yes” by the notation “Site Marker:”, have a headstone/marker and their burial spot was located. All other people have no known headstone/marker and their burial spot was not found.

All headstones in the cemetery were checked in person on December 26, 1997, by Gilles A. Bonneau. Afterward, Mr. Bonneau and his brother, Janvier C. Bonneau, painstakingly typed in all the particulars for each entry, with Gilles doing the final editing.

All names have been further checked against the cemetery register, by Debbie Miller and Gilles A. Bonneau, for accuracy and to include those people without a headstone.