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Search continues for vanished cemetery

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Members of the St. Francois Xavier Historical Society are continuing their search for a cemetery in the Pigeon Lake area that’s believed to contain seven bodies buried about 85 years ago.


Society member Rudy Friesen said he helped look through bush in an area west of the Village of St. Francois Xavier on a recent weekend, but no trace of the cemetery was found despite the searchers using a metal detector.


"We’ve been looking for it (the cemetery) for years," Friesen said.


In about 1925, 30 Mennonite families settled in the Pigeon Lake area. Friesen said there were seven deaths before 1929 when the Schoenfelder Mennonite Church was constructed, with a cemetery on the church grounds. Although he’s heard some people say they are aware of the original cemetery, no one can pinpoint its exact location.


Another Society member, Leslie Tsai, said the search is underway in an area close to the Assiniboine River among wooded land that has never been developed. Because of the heavy vegetation, it’s hard to search for subtle changes at ground level. The searchers tried using a metal detector in case a metal fence had been placed around the burial site.


While the search may now be postponed until late fall, when the vegetation has mainly died off, Friesen is skeptical about ever locating the cemetery.


"I have doubts about whether or not we’ll ever find it," he said.


However, if they are successful, they plan to fence the area and possibly place a marker there.


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