Description of Historic Place
The Millford Cemetery near Treesbank consists of a large stone monument in a clearing above the Oak Creek valley and a tree-filled cemetery a short distance east down a gravel road. The municipal designation applies to two parcels of land: the approximately 6,000-square-metre monument site and 2.9-hectare cemetery.
The Millford Cemetery is a rare designated site recalling and celebrating an interesting phenomenon in the early-settlement era (1870-80) in southern Manitoba, when boom towns were established in anticipation of the arrival of the railway service, but were then abandoned within a few years when the hoped-for railway lines materialized elsewhere. Like several other such pre-railway communities in the region, Millford was a bustling centre of about 100 people, and the first place to get mail delivery in the province's southwestern corner. At its peak, the village had several stores, three hotels, three livery stables, two blacksmith shops, three doctors and a variety of other services and social clubs, and became a gateway for homesteaders who travelled to the area via paddlewheel steamers on the nearby Assiniboine River. In the mid-1880s, however, construction of a Canadian Pacific Railway branch line bypassed the settlement, as it did many others, giving a business advantage to different communities; residents of places like Millford had little choice but to relocate, often hauling their buildings to the new privileged community site. The Millford Cemetery, still in active use, and the simple townsite monument bearing a dedication written by Nellie McClung, a prominent author, reformer and political figure who spent part of her childhood at Millford, are now all that mark the former settlement, important reminders of the kind of institutional obstacles that, along with a severe climate, isolation and back-breaking labour, made pioneer life so challenging.
Source: Rural Municipality of South Cypress By-law No. 1749, March 13, 2001
Key elements that define the site character of the Millford Cemetery include:
- their original locations, about 300 metres apart, southeast of Treesbank, on undulating and treed land next to Oak Creek, surrounded by agricultural fields and accessed by a gravel grid road
- the clearing that marks the townsite set on high ground overlooking the creek, with the cemetery situated nearby, further east, on sheltered, hilly ground
Key elements that define the cemetery's heritage character include:
- the large rectangular site, grassed and heavily treed within, and bordered by deciduous trees and a simple wood-post-and-wire fence
- the artistically rendered sign at the north edge of the site, reading 'MILLFORD CEMETERY Est. 1883', and the entrance and exit gates for a one-way U-shaped drive
- the gravesites and variety of markers dating from 1882 to the present
Key elements that define the townsite commemoration include:
- the single boulder monument with 'MILLFORD' in attached metal letters on one side and a bronze plaque containing a tribute by Nellie McClung