Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Brookside Cemetery turns 125 years old

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IT is said that only by remembering our past can we ever hope to understand the present and face the future. If this is true, then a stroll through Brookside Cemetery's vast sea of headstones will provide a valuable history lesson for every Winnipegger.

The cemetery, located at 3001 Notre Dame Ave., just west of Red River College, has the distinction of turning 125 years old on Monday.

"Both the rich and the poor are buried in Brookside Cemetery," says Rick Thain, the city's administrator of cemeteries and chairman of the Brookside 125 committee. "There are famous people as well as criminals buried there, and quite a few children who died due to conditions of poverty under which they lived."

Brookside Cemetery was created in 1878 for citizens who didn't have family who could bury them, and for families who were not affiliated with a church.

Among the famous Winnipeggers buried in Brookside are former NHL hockey player Bill Mosienko, who grew up in the North End. He still holds the league record for the fastest three goals in one game, and was named Manitoba Sports Athlete of the Year in 1956. Also buried there is: Arinbjorn Bardal, an undertaker who brought the procedure of embalming to Winnipeg; Lt. Harry Colebourn, who purchased a small bear cub for $20 and named her Winnie, after the City of Winnipeg; war hero Sgt. Tommy Prince; Frances Evans Cornish, the very first mayor of Winnipeg; and former lieutenant-governor Dr. George Johnson, who was instrumental in the development of the nearby college.

"He started up Red River College and now he is buried right beside it," says Thain.

"Many Winnipeggers are surprised at some of the famous people buried in the cemetery and those buried in Brookside came from all walks of life, from paupers to politicians as well as the unsavory characters of the city's past," says Kristen Verin-Treusch of Muddy Waters Tours, who along with her partner, Nicole Verin-Treusch, have conducted tours of the cemetery over the past summer. "People are really quite amazed at the history of this cemetery and at how many people are buried at Brooside and at who is buried at Brookside."

In honour of Brookside's 125th anniversary, Thain will be at McNally Robinson Booksellers, Grant Park Shopping Centre tomorrow at 8 p.m. to launch Brookside Cemetery: A Celebration of Life, Vol.1. Another launch will be held Oct. 4 at 2 p.m. at Sir William Stephenson Library, 765 Keewatin St.

The book describes the history of the cemetery and includes stories and photos of some of the more notable individuals interred there. Copies of the book will be available at the launch for $10.

Thain promises that Vol. 2 will be out sometime next year.

"With 97,000 people buried at Brookside, there are so many more stories to tell."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 1, 2003 $sourceSection$sourcePage

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