The e-newsletter page of
Prince Albert Branch
Saskatchewan Genealogical Society

Box 1464 Prince Albert, Saskatchewan S6V 5T1


In this archive Jan~Feb~Mar~Apr 2005
Volume 22 Number 1 of 3
Heirlines Online Change
Sharing September 2004
Graves Found while Constructing Forestry Building

Christmas Joy

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Heirlines Online Change

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Sharing September 2004

A member was impressed with his tour of an Alberta mausoleum this summer. A mausoleum provides a setting in which a casket or urn can be sheltered in security and dignity. Just as important, a mausoleum provides an indoor environment in which the living may honour the dead in accordance with religious and cultural practice. The mausoleum or "inside cemetery" he visited has space for hundreds of caskets and thousands of urns. One he mentioned had the deceased’s war medals displayed with the urn under glass. The same member extended his family history knowledge with photos taken in Poland of ancestors in the Germany Army. He is looking forward to a 2006 family reunion in Central Butte.

A cousin invited a member and his wife on a trip to Europe to honor the 100th anniversary of her father’s birth. The wife had tremendous success at the Cornwall Family History Center that lead to a tremendous expenditure at the Records Office in London. At the Huntingdon’s Record’s Office, he found the 1820 marriage of his grandparents that lead to the 1798 baptism of his grandmother. He was concerned that this office had no protocol for handling the vellum and calfskin originals but it was a wonderful visual and tactile experience. In Ireland, he visited the church that his mother’s people had donated the land for.

A copy of a grandmother’s last will and testament is a new treasure especially as it came with the cancelled checks showing the beneficiaries signatures.

The internet connected a member with a relative whose g-g-grandfather is the member’s g-g-g-grandfather.

A member is thrilled with her genealogically oriented cousin who is scanning and repairing old photos. She has had success in identifying people in the photos. This member and others are focusing on descendents. She has been updating 14 family trees, another has been following up (or down) on the descendents of his grandparents and another is expecting a new descendent in November.

Membership in the Brockville genealogy group has proved successful. Our member is now corresponding with a descendent of her g-g-grandfather, Andrew Wilson.

Maps have been organized in a binder, and pedigree charts have been updated by other members.

A subscription to Ancestry.com is being well used. Our member found her g-g-grandmother’s entry into the States in 1892. The g-g-grandmother died in 1893.

A phone call out of the blue one day resulted in a visit from a relative from Florida. Also, our member has acquired her g-grandmother’s death certificate before the cost jumps to an outrageous $50.


Graves Found while Constructing Forestry Building

Our November program was an exciting one presented by Norman Hill of the St. Paul Presbyterian Church. He guided us through a complete history and ended with a fascinating puzzle.

Reverend James Nisbet was born in 1823 in Glasgow, Scotland. His father was a carpenter and James most likely developed carpentry skills. He emigrated to Canada in 1944 and attended Knox College in Toronto. He ministered at the Oakville Church but then relocated to the Red River Settlement in 1852. The Presbyterian Church was looking for missionaries for "not Canada" or the North West Territories. When asked, Rev. Nisbet accepted and left for Fort Pitt via the Carlton Trail on June 7, 1866. His wife, Mary McBeath and a sister-in-law accompanied him. Another sister was ill and when news of her death reached the party, it was decided that although his mother-in-law had suffered many recent losses, returning would not really help. They carried on as best they could although rain had turned the earth to a sticky messy gumbo. Then it snowed. After forty days they arrived in Carlton. He took advice from the chief factors and after travelling by York boat settled at what was to become Central Avenue in Prince Albert.

Rev. Nisbet had an interesting first meeting with the Indians. Customarily the Indians extracted a fee from travelers but Nisbet, through his interpreter, John McKie, explained he would not pay the fee because he had come to work for them. The snow was two feet high before his first building was done. The Reverend named his location after Queen Victoria's consort, Prince Albert.

Rev. Nisbet literally began from scratch. He needed to build, fence, plow, plant and establish a life. He wrote copiously but unfortunately he did not record people's names. He would indicate a baptism had taken place, but not who was baptized. He contributed to the "Presbyterian Record", a church magazine, giving thanks for support and detailing a "wish list" usually of clothes, books and Bibles in his update of the mission.

Good help was difficult to find and Rev. Nisbet had trouble with workers. Eventually a requested helper arrived but the helper was probably too late. Mary took ill and the couple returned to the Red River settlement. Mary died a mere two days after arriving and the Reverend died after eleven days. At 51 years old, he probably literally wore himself out.

A new minister arrived and the area grew. The first St. Paul's Presbyterian Church, a log building, was constructed in 1872 on what is now the A&W parking lot. The Mission was located where the historical museum, the old fire hall, is now. When the congregation outgrew the log church, a new red brick building was built near the old Arts Center with a manse near by. A manse photo includes the famous writer Lucy Maud Montgomery.

During the uprising in Duck Lake, Prince Albert lived in fear of an attack. There was a shortage of men as many had volunteered to fight. The people built a stockade around center downtown and used St. Paul's church bell as a signal. A false alarm heightened the fear. Imagine the outrage of an absentee owner when he returned to find his brick home, near the outside of the stockade, dismantled to prevent attackers from using it as an access point. During the alarm women fainted and a man shot a hole in the church roof. The next day the man who initiated the alarm realized it was not Indians he had seen in the dark but cows.

The third St. Paul's was built to make way for the construction of Central Avenue in 1891. Then in 1906 the present day St. Paul's on 12 St. and 1st Avenue E was built to accommodate a growing congregation. Hill presented an amazing photo from the 1940s that shows the location of all four churches.

The Presbyterian church is known for its record keeping. It has records of church attendance. It also welcomed emigrants. Audrey Boyko's grandmother was met at the train station and taken to the Presbyterian church although she was not Presbyterian.

A puzzle has been revealed by the excavation of the new Forestry building in downtown Prince Albert. Twenty-six graves have been found. What should be uniformly clay soil has sections of black soil that indicates a grave. At the moment there are no records of a graveyard there. Adding to the puzzle is knowledge that when the Avenue Hotel built its parking lot, they also found graves. Hill hopes that after the union of the Presbyterian, Methodist and Congregational churches in 1925, that the burial plot layout records of these graves where transferred to Regina. He is hoping for results from an inquiry soon.

The developer, city employees, archaeologist, and church had a successful meeting but the question of who is to pay has yet to be resolved. The developer needs to build a ramp for parking stalls soon. The archaeologist is waiting for the ground to freeze as this will better the chances of removing the caskets intact. Then comes the time consuming and hence costly work of identifying gender, age and other data.
Hill mentioned that he was hoping to establish the date of the Forestry cemetery by discovering the earliest date of the Presbyterian plot in the South Hill Cemetery. Barb Beck was keen to sort the data we have and may have already delivered an answer. Eventually the remains will be reburied in South Hill.

Hill explained that it is not unusual to build on cemeteries. He listed New York as having 900 known gravesites and London 5000. A member mentioned that in La Ronge gravesites were found when a new post office was constructed. Hill is wondering if perhaps the cemetery was used for an epidemic like the influenza epidemic in 1889-90 or a later diptheria epidemic. One area in particular looks crowded. (Returning to Rev. Nisbet, Hill mentioned that the Reverend successfully inoculated 150 Indians against the smallpox.) An epidemic might explain how the cemetery was forgotten. The puzzle remains though how this cemetery land was "lost".


Christmas Joy
It is our tradition to feast and make merry in December. This year was no exception. Below is A. Jones with his "Works of Art". Art is a wood turner and carver and his gifts are usually stolen at least once in our crazy exchange. Thanks again to G. Crosland for donating her time and talent. Her "Carolers" Fundraiser was very successful. Thanks to all members who sold tickets.






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created Jan 2001 modified Jan 2005