Over the past month and a half we’ve been attending weddings every other week. I’ve loved being able to attend these events and I’m so happy for these beautiful couples!
So, the first wedding we were guests at was in late August in St. Pierre-Jolys. There was a bit of time between the ceremony and reception… and I know exactly what we were going to do with our time — EXPLORE!
It’s not often that we set out to explore with St. Pierre as our “home-base”. So, I began to examine which place-names were nearby. Ste. Elizabeth caught my eye, and off we went to check it out.
That afternoon before we left home, I’d thrown a pair of rubber boots into the trunk of the car. It went well with my wedding-attendee garb. (Hahaha just kidding, no it didn’t, but whatever!)
So… Ste. Elizabeth. I’d read a little bit online that hinted at this place being a ghost-town. And… it does seem pretty ghostly. Case in point:
Right. Scariest house I’ve ever seen.
Across the road from it, though, you see this:
With a neatly manicured lawn, it’s much more inviting. I trotted over to take a look.
Behind the church, beyond the lawn, there was an overgrowth of trees and grass. I was curious, and wandered in to take a look. This was unexpected:
Broken tombstones?! I don’t understand. They’re just lying there behind the church. Where are the graves?
There were more weird cement pieces sticking our randomly in the grass. Things felt really odd and I decided to stop wandering around in this area, and returned to the safety of the lawn.
So, behind the church, there’s actually this… sign? cairn? What would you call it? Anyway, it has three sides to it, listing all the people buried in this cemetery:
I suspect you may not be able to read all these names… but just in case you want to, and just in case you can, I figured I’d post all three sides here.
This was a very bright side, and turned out more like a cenotaph-selfie:
Here is a grave marker from 1902:
Of course none of this is Mennonite. All of it is French. But this place is irresistible! Look at what’s painted on the side of the church. The building must be cared for:
Unlike the strangely fascinating (and forbidden) property across the road:
There are many other scary-looking abandoned buildings scattered and tucked away throughout overgrown lots:
I’m not sure how Ste. Elizabeth came to be abandoned at this level (or maintained as well as it is!) so I googled it and found this page that addresses the history of the town.
It seems the Manitoba Schools Act hadn’t only affected Mennonites. According to this page, people were also forbidden from teaching their children in French.
When we arrived back in St. Pierre-Jolys for the wedding reception, we told our table-mates where we’d been. Our friend replied that his daughter is a photographer and has visited Ste. Elizabeth to take photos of its strange abandoned buildings. I’m sure in the hands of a skilled photographer, the photos are stunning!