History

Merna United Church and Cemetery

Merna United Church, currently under the care of the Merna Cemetery Maintenance Society. These folks have done a great job in the upkeep of this building and of the cemetery.

I love visiting cemeteries, especially the older ones that tell their own stories of the people who came before and of their struggles and triumphs, their lives and their deaths. The other day we went to Big Knife Provincial Park in east-central Alberta, about an hour and a half’s drive from our village. On the way back we stopped at Merna United Church and cemetery in Flagstaff County, 27 kilometres east of Forestburg.

The little white church stands right where it was built in 1907. It was dedicated on Sunday, July 29th, 1908. In the half an hour or so that we wandered around the cemetery, I located the oldest grave as cited in the article from “Heritage Barns of Flagstaff.” According to the post’s author, this earliest marker belongs to Mary Winfred Stewart who was born in 1871 and died in 1905. The updated stone tells her story a bit differently:

Mary Winnifred Stewart, first wife of [William?] H. Stewart was born in 1871 and died in 1908, the year after the Merna church and cemetery had been established. I really appreciate that both wives are listed here along with their husband and that the original stone is topped with a new marker.
Archibald Brown died October 29, 1909, aged 58 years. “Blessed is the Peacemaker”
I see now that William Charboneau also died in 1919. That’s not why I photographed his monument, though. I was fascinated by how they kept two pieces of the original stone and set between them the updated marker. It’s a beautiful way to preserve history.

When the Merna district school closed in 1969, its bell was removed and placed in the brand new bell tower of Merna United Church in 1970. I’m so glad that bell got to live on and serve its purpose elsewhere in the community. I didn’t spot the bell in the enclosed tower when I toured the church the other day, but I assume it’s still there waiting to ring.

If you enjoy exploring cemeteries or cemetery history or both, Remember Me As You Pass By is an excellent book full of mostly Alberta cemetery stories and history. Here is my review of it.

This stained-glass transom window is above the church’s front door.
I just had to capture this gorgeous replacement plate belonging to the grave of a Mason Lodge member, John Nicol. There were other [brass?] plates like this in the graveyard, but no others that I saw featured the Masonic symbol.
“In affectionate remembrance of Marion McPherson beloved wife of D.L. McPherson Died January 1st 1917. Aged 65 years. To be with Christ is far better.”

If you’re exploring the countryside this summer, drop by a cemetery or two. I’ll do the same. They’re peaceful and contemplative places where physical distancing is not an issue. Thanks for reading and take good care. ~ Lori

3 replies »

  1. Hey Lori!
    It seems that you found quite a lot of enjoyment visiting the Merna United Church. The differences in the dates I quoted and those on the grave markers seems to be due to differences in the cemetery’s ledger, which the Leslie family currently holds. So glad you enjoyed your day in this neck of the woods.
    Syd with HBoF

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Syd! Thanks for getting in touch on WordPress. That’s great! I really enjoyed your post on Heritage Barns of Flagstaff. I shared it to Twitter and others enjoyed it too. Your whole site is great. So glad I discovered it today. Take care and thanks again for connecting! – Lori

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s