St James Cemetery Trivia
As you go west on Portage Ave. there is a picture of a tramp on the side of a store. The picture has been there at least 60 years. The building was originally a drugstore and the owner put the picture there to illustrate that it was a “long tramp” to the next drugstore, which was in Portage la Prairie. The druggist, Carman Ruttan, who owned this landmark, was well known in Manitoba for his practice of herbal medicine. His grave is near the north gate of the cemetery.
The Mayor of Winnipeg from 1977-79 was Robert Steen, who is buried in the NW section of the cemetery.
Bourkevale Park is behind St. James Technical Institute. Members of the Bourke family are buried in the centre by the north gate and directly east of the church building.
McDermot is a street near the Health Sciences Centre. The son of Andrew McDermot is buried here.
While Alfred Cowley was the rector of St James Parish Church, his wife, Elizabeth, died in 1896. Mrs. Cowley had been well known in the Red River Settlement before she died. Before her marriage, the former Miss Hart Davies was the first principal of St John’s Ladies College. She is buried just south of the church building.
World War I and World War II headstones are scattered throughout the cemetery.
Students of St James Technical Institute (formerly St James Collegiate) can win an Olive Cairns Legion Scholarship. She and her husband Lt. Col. Alex Cairns are buried directly east of the church about three rows from the east hedge.
The Chapman Building, on the corner of Collegiate St. and Portage Ave. in St James, is owned by a family who first lived in Charleswood. The Chapman plot is immediately north of the church.
Also on the north side of the building are the Bruce graves — the family after which Bruce Park was named.
The first school in St James was on these church grounds.
The name of the church was established as the Parish of St James. The district (later city and suburb) of St James was named after the parish.
Many babies died in the early years. There are a number of baby graves along the west hedge of the cemetery as well as near the church; baby graves along the north hedge are not always marked as they most likely died before they were given names. In 2018 the Wee Souls Memorial garden was created, to acknowledge these children and their families’ losses, and to give people a quiet space for contemplation.
Frank W Thompson, founder of the Wolf Cubs in Canada, is buried NE of the church.
There are at least 9,237 souls buried in the cemetery. Some of the old families have as many as 17 family members buried in the cemetery (as the Hallet family does).
Other streets (and city buildings) have been named after people buried in the cemetery, or whose families were early settlers of St James: Isbister, Fidler, Bannatyne, Anderson, Smith, McKenzie, Bruce, Inkster, and Pinkham (school) … and Omand (creek).
Anita Schmidt (revised 2014; 2023)