MOUNT HOPE CEMETERY, ASSINIBOIA, SK.

(100 years of records)

NE 1/4 of Sec. 4 Tp. 8 Rg. 30 W2nd RM #72NE 1/4 of Sec. 1 Tp. 8

Rg. 1 W3rd RM #73 – (1924 – 2021)

In 1924, the R.M. Lake of the Rivers #72 gave the Town of Assiniboia a grant of the NE fractional quarter of Sec. 4, Tp. 8, Rg. 30, W2nd (consisting of 4.21 acres), cornering the town on the southwest corner, for a new cemetery. It was promptly named Mount Hope . The grant was subject to the R.M. of Lake of the Rivers being granted suitable burial plots free of charge for their indigent dead. The R.M. of Stonehenge #73 was asked for a similar grant of four (4) acres, more or less, on the NE 1/4 of Sec. 1, Tp. 8, Rg. 1, W3rd, adjoining the west side of the cemetery. Over the years the cemetery has been further extended South and West. In December of 1977, the Town Council passed a motion enabling the town to exchange $10,000 in cash and $5,000 in town land (namely an unused part of Prairie Rest Cemetery) for 15 acres of land on the west side of Mount Hope. The negotiations took place with Arthur Drewitz, owner of the land which is also situated on the NE 1/4 of Sec. 1, Tp. 8, Rg. 1, W3rd.

In 1952 the central front entrance with its picturesque stonework was abandoned, its “Y” shaped driveway taken up for burial sites, and a new front entrance was designed at the northeast corner of the cemetery. This new entrance, with a white pipe/wire gate, was also embellished with large pillars of stone on each side, and low stone walls reaching out about 18 feet to smaller pillars. A small white pedestrian gate was installed on the most southerly pillar, but it was removed many years ago. In 1972 the more prominent innermost pillars were entombed, as it were, by two small steel towers which were installed over them, as supports for a beautiful arched display of the very optimistic name of the cemetery “Mount Hope”. This sturdy sign was designed, fabricated and installed by Gordon Forsythe, a local farmer who donated his time and expertise throughout the winter of 1971/72. Following installation on April 03, 1972, the Town of Assiniboia reimbursed him $434.53 for materials used. Over time, the two support towers became overgrown with planted vines, and these add a distinct grandeur to the same.

Also in 1952, the town constructed a burial vault & chapel of cement blocks, 22′ x 18′ with a full basement; estimated cost $2100.00. A grant of $300.00 each was received from the R.M. Lake of the Rivers and the R.M. of Stonehenge. Actually, the vault was only meant for use in winter months when conditions for opening graves by hand was unacceptable, thus with the advent of the back-hoe it became no longer needed and was dismantled in the mid 1990s.

A more recent innovation, a double sided Columbarium, was setup on the burial vault & chapel’s old site in August 2003. Purchased from Kootenay Monuments in Ta Ta Creek, B.C., it is modest in size and will undoubtedly have to be expanded in future years.

On the Spiritual side, the cemetery was discreetly adorned with a large iron cross, built by the town maintenance crew, in 2009. Uniquely fabricated in a transparent design of 1¼ inch metal square tubing, it was erected in a secluded area on the north side of the main entrance. Suitably painted a bright white, contrasted by an earth filled brown log base, the cross adds a certain ambiance to the sacred site.

Mount Hope is located within walking distance of town, and is a continually well kept cemetery. It is surrounded by an acceptable fence, and lined on the interior with trees which certainly contribute to its seclusion. In February 1950, the Willing Workers Organization undertook to work with the Parks and Recreation Board to maintain and beautify Mount Hope. Then on May 03, 1950, Jacob Seida was hired as caretaker at $150.00 per month for a 44 hour week. Also, By-law #318, for control and regulation of the town cemetery, was passed by Council June 19, 1950; By-law #587 replaced it in November 1970. The most noteworthy caretaker, James Swift, hired September 17, 1952, was a man who took his duties to heart. He was a very innovative person, and all the fancy stonework at both entrances was his doing; he was even complemented by the town council for the efficient manner in which he did his work. During his tenure, a committee’s report described the cemetery as “in the best condition in years and as a reason for pride by the council and inhabitants of the town”. Other caretakers which followed are: John Ellis (1968), …., Reginald O’Neil (2010), Shawn McGillis (2011) Timothy Crosbie (2012) and Shawn McGillis (Paul Denaire & Thomas Geneau) in 2013.

As of December 31, 2014, there are 3615 people interred at Mount Hope. Keep in mind that the file for this cemetery also identifies a few more residents, that are buried on private land, with/without a monument in Mount Hope.

All said, those people listed in the master file with a number by the notation “Marker Photo #”, have a headstone/marker at their burial site. All others (about 360 sites) remained with no visible headstone/marker at this date; nevertheless the occupants of most burial sites are known, save for a very few sites who’s occupants cannot now be identified with any degree of certainty. Such is life!

Note: The cemetery records for Prairie Rest and Mount Hope are kept in the Assiniboia Town Office. They’re also accessible at the Assiniboia & District Museum, the Assiniboia Public Library and on the Internet at www.willowbunch.ca . For cemetery plots, please contact Assiniboia Town Office at #642 3382 or fax #642 5622.