For Saskatoon's first 20 years of existence, the Nutana (Pioneer) Cemetery was Saskatoon's only burial grounds. In 1904, the Summerdale Cemetery in Smithville, about 7 miles west of Saskatoon, opened and some burials were done there. In 1905, the first interments in a new cemetery, St. Paul's Roman Catholic Cemetery, which later became part of Woodlawn Cemetery, took place. There are no records existing at Woodlawn Cemetery for the Catholic section prior to 1918, so it is believed that it was in that year that the administration of the Catholic cemetery came under the City of Saskatoon.
The need for a cemetery on the west side of the city was obvious for some time. An undated petition from the cemetery records states:
"Whereas the Town of Saskatoon has no Cemetry and is obliged to interr its dead in the cemetry situated in Nutana or the cemetry situated at Smithville.
And whereas the cemetry at Smithville is situated about six miles West from Saskatoon and is too far from Saskatoon to be conveiant for its Citizens.
And whereas the roads leading to the Nutana cemetry are very poor and unsafe to use a hearse thereon.
And whereas many people are prevented from attending funerals of their friends at the Nutana cemetry on account of the said roads and at the Smithville cemetry on account of the distance.
And whereas it is desirable that the Town of Saskatoon should have a cemetry of its own.
Wherefore your petitioners pray that the Council of the Town of Saskatoon shall provide a suitable cemetry for the said town and your petitioners as in duty bouned will ever pray." *Reproduced accurately, spelling as per the original
A further complaint mentions the difficulty of crossing the river in the winter. The citizens of Saskatoon felt that as their community was separate from the Nutana settlement, and not part of Smithville, a separate burial ground should exist for Saskatoon proper. St. Paul's Catholic Cemetery had already been opened by the Catholic Church in Saskatoon (Diocese of Prince Albert), which saw its first burial in 1905. Land was obtained directly north of and adjacent to the Catholic cemetery. The City of Saskatoon took over complete administration of the Catholic cemetery and it became part of Woodlawn Cemetery soon after.
The last burial in the Nutana (Pioneer) Cemetery took place in 1948, however, Woodlawn was the official cemetery from its opening in 1906. The first recorded burial in Woodlawn Cemetery was that of an infant who was buried on January 5, 1906, but some unknown burials are known to have occurred earlier during the period that the Catholic Cemetery was in exclusive use on the site.
Based on current usage, Woodlawn Cemetery is expected to continue as Saskatoon's municipal cemetery for at least another 30 years.