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From: Parks Canada
Brookside Cemetery is among the oldest and largest examples of the Euro-American garden cemetery tradition in Western Canada
November 9, 2023
Today, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, announced the designation of Brookside Cemetery as a national historic site under Parks Canada’s National Program of Historical Commemoration. National historic designations illustrate the persons, places, and events that have marked history in Canada. Together, they tell the stories of who we are and connect us to our past, enriching our understanding of ourselves, each other, and this country.
Established in 1878, Brookside Cemetery is located on Treaty 1 territory and the homeland of the Métis Nation. This municipally owned, non-denominational cemetery has many beautiful built features including winding roads, irregularly shaped islets, a waterway, and park-like landscape design.
The form and development of the cemetery exemplify the late 19th and early 20th century concern of many in Canada for civic beauty and the provision of public greenspace in cities. Brookside Cemetery was first laid out between 1877 and 1883 in the garden (or rural) cemetery style by English-born surveyor and architect Thomas H. Parr. However, the transformation of the open prairie landscape into a site which exemplified this Euro-American, picturesque approach to landscape design truly gained momentum in 1896 when the cemetery was transferred to Winnipeg’s recently founded Public Parks Board. This group envisioned a place where all classes could escape the crowds and noise of the city in locations designed to appear like “pleasing rural scenery.” Between 1899 and 1904, David D. England, the first Superintendent of Winnipeg’s Public Parks Board, altered and enlarged Parr’s plans and directed the planting of thousands of trees at Brookside. The succeeding Superintendent of Parks, George Champion, added a pond and a bridge, planted additional trees, and developed the northern part of the site in keeping with the garden cemetery style.
Brookside Cemetery also hosts one of Canada’s largest Fields of Honour. Particularly significant is the First World War-era section which displays a unique military cemetery design that predates the standardized approach of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. This area exemplifies the efforts of local service groups to honour fallen soldiers.
The Government of Canada, through the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, recognizes significant persons, places, and events that have shaped Canada. Sharing these stories helps foster understanding and reflection on the diverse histories, cultures, legacies, and realities of Canada’s past and present.
The designation process under Parks Canada’s National Program of Historical Commemoration is largely driven by public nominations. To date, more than 2,240 designations have been made nationwide. To nominate a person, place or historic event in your community, please visit the Parks Canada website for more information: https://parks.canada.ca/culture/designation/proposer-nominate.
“Brookside Cemetery is a beautiful and significant example of garden cemetery design. Developed on the Canadian prairie landscape, it is also illustrative of a period of colonial expansion as exemplified through the picturesque design approach. Importantly, the cemetery is also valued as a final resting place and as a memorial for those who sacrificed their lives in military service to their country during World War I and World War II. To many of us, Brookside Cemetery is an example of our shared history and a place to honour our lost loved ones.”
The Honourable Steven Guilbeault
Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada
“As one of the largest and most important veteran burial sites in Canada, Brookside Cemetery is very deserving of the distinction of being a national historic site. The Field of Honour at Brookside Cemetery is a resting place to over 10,000 of our veterans. It has long been a respected and honoured place where we remember the sacrifices of those who have served. I would like to thank the City of Winnipeg’s Public Service for their efforts in pursuing this designation, and encourage Canadians to learn more about the importance of Brookside Cemetery and its Field of Honour.”
His Worship Mayor Scott Gillingham
City of Winnipeg
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change