Visiting the Strassburg-Friesen Cemetery

It was Canadian Thanksgiving Day, 2018, when Andrew and I were able to join Ernest Braun and Glen Klassen on a tour of sites in the East Reserve. Ernest and Glen wrote the Historical Atlas of the East Reserve, and being able to tour sites with them was a lot of fun! So far I’ve only written a bit about it, as I suppose I’d been saving these posts for winter. Oh hey, it’s winter now!

Our first stop was the Strassburg-Friesen Cemetery memorial. This is a private site, that I’d been hoping to see. In the Atlas, there is a photo of a stone which is largely dedicated to the matriarch of all the East Reserve Leoppkys — Eva Glockman. The Atlas states: “She was born of Jewish parents in Strassburg, Odessa.”

It was great to drive directly onto a farmyard, knowing Ernest had cleared the visit with the people who live there. We put on rubber boots and followed Ernest out to the back of the property, along the edge of a field…

He walks pretty fast so we had to hurry to keep up.

And there it was! The cairn/stone to this family. Right where the cemetery had been before. Now it is quite literally in the middle of a field. I give major credit to this farmer for allowing this memorial stone to be erected here. I think it’s really quite beautiful.

The Atlas says three inter-related families lived in Strassburg: the Loeppkys, Friesens, and Toews. From what I can recall that Ernest had said (sorry this was several months ago by now!), Eva’s husband had passed away before the family left Russia… so she came across the ocean a widow, with her married children. Here is where they had settled. Here is where Strassburg had been, along a ridge that had been the Crow Wing Trail.

Standing here at the Friesen Cemetery with Ernest and Glen, they told us about how the Crow Wing Trail followed the ridge (left from the melting of the ancient Lake Agassiz) because when the river and landscape flooded, the ridge would stand out… and this became the trail. I had not known that before, and found it fascinating.

Ernie said that he often finds debris left from Strassburg when he visits this memorial. Here he had found a bit of glass from a window I suppose… and rested it on what may have been the remains of a foundation.

It was a fascinating start to our adventurous Thanksgiving Day!