What Little Remains of Reinland/Whitla, East of the Red River


I was on the hunt for more cemeteries, carefully examining the Historical Atlas of the East Reserve. I turned my attention to the back of the book, which documents Settlement Beyond ER Boundaries. That’s how I found out about Reinland/Whitla.

There isn’t much to know. There was a Reinland private school here, which was established in 1905. There was a settlement in this area, which was known as Whitla. “Whitla” was the name of the land speculator who sold land to the first Mennonites who settled here.

Being just two and a half miles north of the East Reserve boundary, not much was written about this spot in the Atlas because it’s outside of the book’s main topic area.

But there’s a cemetery left here, and the Atlas calls it “Reinland Doerksen”.

And thanks to the Atlas, I knew where to find it.

After fields have been harvested, it is a little more obvious where a cemetery may lie. Untilled land holds special mystery.

Yes, this looks like something, for sure.

And then we found it: the reason the book calls this “Reinland Doerksen”.

Exploring the cemetery felt quite dangerous, because there are many apparently large badgers who live there and have created giant yawning chasms next to the headstones, hidden by the tall grasses blowing every which way in the wind.

There was evidence of someone once caring for this site.

And evidence of the badgers taking over.

In reading East Reserve Reflections, which was compiled by Karen Peters in 1999, I’m happy to see there is a full page dedicated to Reinland, East Reserve. Because of the contributions of Russ Kehler and Randy Kehler, I now know that this cemetery was a family garden cemetery belonging to the Doerksens.

An interesting story was shared, relating to Johann and Helena Doerksen’s youngest son passing away in Blumengard and taken to Reinland for burial here. I also found it interesting to read that at time of publication in 1999, this cemetery had been restored. Visiting it now… it is much changed.

Here is a list of all the people buried in this cemetery: