VERWOOD MUNICIPAL CEMETERY

(R.M. of Excel #71) – (1914 to 2023)

As concerns the location of this cemetery, a certain Lucy A. Goddard received her patent for the SW 1/4 of Sec. 6, Tp. 7, Rg. 27, W2nd, on November 26, 1914, and this in all probability, means she applied for her homestead in 1911. Yet, an early R.M. of Excel map indicates that a certain D.D. Goddard owned both the SW & SE quarters in 1914, go figure!

In the fall of 1914 the Verwood Village Council passed a resolution to purchase a site on the SE 1/4 of Sec. 6 for burial grounds, and in that same resolution it was agreed to buy fencing material to surround the cemetery. All the same, a 2005 homestead map indicates that by March 10, 1916 the Village of Verwood owned the whole of the SE 1/4 of Sec. 6.

More recently, during the summer of 2012, a committee was formed to address the need for a proper entrance gate for the cemetery. Funds were collected from current and former residents, and Mr. Patrick Therrien of Willow Bunch was commissioned to design and construct an appropriate metal entrance gate. The same was to be installed in the fall of the year, but the weather turned nasty and installation was delayed until the summer of 2013. A beautiful memorial sign, honouring the Fallen Heroes of WWI & WWII for Verwood and District, was also setup at this time (situated on the north side of the cemetery, in line with the entrance). Such innovations truly serve to embellish the cemetery, and they may well be accompanied with some side panels for the formidable entrance at a later date.

The Cemetery is situated — from Willow Bunch — nine miles north on Highway #36, one mile east on Highway #13. The entrance to the grounds is in line with that of a nearby farmstead, directly south of the cemetery.

THE LAND LOCATION IS: SE 1/4 of Sec. 6, Tp. 7, Rg. 27, W2nd, in the R.M. of Excel #71.

The first burial at this site, that of Clare John Russell, took place on February 22, 1915. His was followed by three burials which took place on about April 05, 1915, for Francis John Harold Gorrell, his wife Jean Gorrell, and her father Robert Weatherhead, all of whom died of carbon monoxide poisoning on April 02, 1915; victims of a tragic coal-mining accident which took place about 2 ½ miles north of Willow Bunch, immediately west of Highway #36. The most recent burial at this site is likewise listed in the Master File.

That said, the very first burial to take place in the Verwood district was that of Jane Ann “Annie” Wood (by legend referred to as Vera Wood!) which took place along the future site of the C.P. railway bed, in July 1908. Six year old Jane Ann, it seems, was of a mind to help her older sister make tea for the haying crew. She was trying to stoke the fire in the kitchen stove with a handful of hay when her dress caught fire. Terrified, Jane Ann ran from the house toward her father at work in the yard, and in her flight compounded her burns and inhaled the fateful flames. Mercifully, due to the severity of her burns she died, and was buried on the homestead. Several years later, in 1912, the C.P.R. purchased a right-of-way from Jane Ann’s father, Edward W. Wood. This left Jane Ann’s burial site within the right-of-way, but not close enough to the rail bed so as to interfere with rail construction at that time. However, in 1932 when the C.P.R. began the process of filling in deteriorating trestles, Jane Ann’s grave was found to be in the way and her body was exhumed and interred in the Verwood Municipal cemetery. To this day, many people maintain that the Village of Verwood was named in her memory! Yet, there is also a Verwood in Dorset, England (the name is Old English for “beautiful wood”) and it may well have been the CPR’s inspiration when naming the village.

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.

Every headstone in the cemetery was checked in person by Gilles A. Bonneau on December 28 & 29, 1997. All names were further checked against the cemetery register, by Mrs. Helen (George) Domes and Gilles A. Bonneau, for accuracy and to include those people without a headstone.

All material was compiled and edited by Gilles A. Bonneau, and Janvier C. Bonneau assisted in making the name entries.

The books for this cemetery are kept by Kenneth “Ken” Berner who lives in Assiniboia, Sk., Phone # 642-5760. They’re also accessible in albums at the Willow Bunch Museum and on the Internet at www.willowbunch.ca .