This past spring I needed a break from work and, of course, the first thing that pops into my mind is "cemetery run." Living in Medicine Hat means being close to many pioneer cemeteries, mostly abandoned, but a few still being cared for by relatives or sympathetic souls.
The following are all situated north of the Cypress Hills at locations formerly known as Newburg, Josephsburg and Gros Ventre-Tothill. These really weren't "settlements" as such, but places where people picked up their mail . . . and buried their dead.
Most of the country cemeteries were established on land donated by generous settlers . . . often by those who had personally lost a loved one, and often a very young child. There was nothing easy about pioneer life.
Above and directly below are shots of the second location of Salem Evangelical Cemetery.
Following are shots of the first location of the Salem Evangelical Cemetery. No markers remain but, this cemetery, as well as Site Two, are still maintained by relatives. The church is long gone.
This guy keeps an eye on things.
Saint Peter's Evangelical Lutheran Cemetery is down the road and around the corner from the Salem Evangelical Cemetery sites and dates back to 1888. That's very old in southeastern Alberta's history. The cemetery is no longer maintained.
This spot is not far from Saint Peter's and was ideal for a picnic and a nap. The purple flowers are a very old variety of Tall Phlox. These are not native plants but were planted by someone a long time ago, probably from seeds from their homeland, and yet have survived in the wilderness all these years. The flowers have a sweet scent that must have triggered happy memories of their homes far across the Atlantic Ocean. These same flowers are still present on many hillsides in and around Medicine Hat.
Evangelical Cemetery . . . not far from the others shown here. This one is maintained by the family that live just down the road.
More Tall Phlox . . . colourful and fragrant in the still spring air.
- Michael Truman