Thursday, 6 July 2017

A Few Cemeteries in Canada

What genealogist doesn't like cemeteries? 
It is a place for us to reflect, gather information and generally give our respects to our ancestors. Although it's not a prerequisite to our chosen profession or hobby, it's still a lot of fun!
BTW did you know you are a 'Taphophile'? 😏

This article looks at a few cemeteries and their notable residents, some I have visited and some I have read about. Cemeteries highlighted: Ross Bay Cemetery, Victoria BC; Crowfoot Cemetery in Southern Alberta; an article about symbolism in Ukrainian cemeteries; Germans from Russia cemeteries in the Medicine Hat area; and a rural grave in Sedalia AB. There are a few resources (books and websites) listed towards the end. I'm particularly interested in the rural graves of settlers and our indigenous communities, the ones not marked, whose names may be lost but are not forgotten.

Large cemeteries in urban centres such as Ross Bay Cemetery in Victoria, B.C. where people such as Emily Carr are buried are easy to research. Self-proclaimed 'Tombstone Tourists', the Old Cemeteries Society of Victoria give tours of Ross Bay Cemetery. Their newsletter has lots of interesting accounts. One cannot forget of course, the graves of the passengers of the Titanic at Fairview Cemetery in Halifax, Nova Scotia, perhaps the most visited cemetery in the Maritimes if not Canada.

Lloydtown, Ontario, named after Jesse Lloyd, an early settler, has a connection as the place where the 1837 Upper Canada Rebellion was planned. It was the second most important city in this area next to Toronto. This website provides photographs of the headstones in the Lloydtown Pioneer Cemetery and the work was undertaken by Tim Fenton.
© Penny Allen
Doing the research for this article I stumbled across Cemetery Stories an article written by Judy Hammond on   One place where we cross paths is the Blackfoot Crossing in Alberta, the largest aboriginal historical centre that focuses on education and preserving traditional native culture of the Siksika Nation. The Crowfoot Cemetery where Chief Crowfoot is buried is close by, down a narrow road and is marked by a monument. Chief Crowfoot was an important chief who was a strong supporter of Treaty 7 which changed lives of the indigenous people forever.  Across the road from the 'Crossing' is the Little Washington Cemetery where people from the local Siksika Nation lay their loved ones to rest.

The Blood Reserve cemeteries, south and west of Lethbridge, Alberta. On 'Mary's Genealogy Treasures' Mary Tollestrup, a well known genealogist in southern Alberta, has provided a transcription of an article written in the Lethbridge Herald in 1997 describing the work carried out by Wayne Plume who cares for the 3 cemeteries on the reserve. St. Catherine's along Hwy.2 at Stand Off, St. Mary's School and Levern on the western edge of the reserve and St. Paul's, 2 km west of the old residential school. Plume says there are no written records that he is aware of but that Father Levern did keep records and where they are now is unknown. Some of the Blood war veterans graves are recorded and cared for.

A worthwhile mention are the memorial parks that are springing up around our provinces. Most of these 'natural memorial parks' are not graveyards or cemeteries. Families are invited to buy a tree in memory of their loved one. This may be appropriate if the deceased was cremated and the remains dispersed in some manner. The Leva Avenue Natural Area grounds in Red Deer were originally owned by the Parkland Funeral Home and Crematorium, but when they did not renew their lease with the city the property was deferred to Red Deer County. My question is, who holds the records - perhaps the county office?

This is an interesting article on the symbolism of the monuments, crosses and stones marking Ukrainian graves in two cemeteries in east-central Alberta. Included are Greek Catholic and Russian-Orthodox burials. These graveyards in Alberta are of original settlers from the Slavic states, and the towns in Alberta are Skaro and St. Mary's Ukrainian Orthodox Parish at Szypenitz. There are photos of some monuments (inscribed in English and Cyrillic) included in the text.

Germans from Russia Historical Society - a very long list of different topics, including a list of cemeteries, relating to Medicine Hat, Cypress County and Forty Mile County in Alberta. Area Coordinator: Clarence Janke. Homestead Years: Primary 1905-1915, and again 1926 & 1927. Background: The early settlers were from the Black Sea to Caspian Sea area, including Bessarabia, Beresan, and Glueckstal. There were also Volga German settlers. Many of the early German-Russian settlers re-located from North and South Dakota, having immigrated earlier. These settlers were predominately farmers.

© Penny Allen
Earlier I mentioned rural graves. On Judy Hammond's Cemetery Stories article: In Sedalia, Alberta (pop. 18) The Gray Homestead - a family cemetery on a dirt road in the deepest rural communities of Alberta. This is the inscription from the plaque that was set in to the side of the road. 'The Gray Homestead 1913. Marion Edith DAHL (GRAY) b. June 19, 1909. Moved here age 3. Came home August 7, 2000. May She Rest in Peace.'


Carmack, Sharon DeBartolo (2002). Your Guide to Cemetery Research

Irwin, Jane. Old Canadian Cemeteries : Places of Memory

Millar, Nancy (she's from Alberta!)
   Once Upon a Tomb: Stories from Canadian Graveyards 
   The Unmentionable History of the West 
   Remember Me As You Pass By: Stories from Prairie Graveyards
   The Final Word: The Book of Canadian Epitaphs

Swyripa, Frances. Storied Landscapes: Ethno-religious Identity and the Canadian Prairies

White, Christopher. The Old Edson Cemetery: Investigations into an Early 20th Century Western Alberta Cemetery.
    Christopher White wrote a dissertation for his Master's degree in Anthropology from the University of Alberta in 2012 on the Old Edson Cemetery. It is available as a pdf from the University's Research and Education Archive. Christopher was invited to talk about his work and lead a tour of the Glenwood Cemetery sponsored by the Edson Museum, [Galloway Station Museum - 223 - 55 Street, Edson, Alberta, ] in Alberta.

Articles etc.

Free Online Cemetery & Tombstone Transcriptions &  Burial Registers - a massive list that covers Canada. Provided by Linda MacKinnon

Genealogy à la carte Cemetery page

Old Banff Cemetery Eyed For Heritage Resource Designation - an article from the Rocky Mountain Outlook. 29 Sep. 2016

Ontario Genealogical Society Cemetery Index

This article on Genealogy Stack Exchange - 'Uncovering residents of cemetery when headstones are losing legibility?' gives great discussion and tips around the dos and don'ts of transcribing from headstones.

'We remember the ones left behind in telling their stories.'

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