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Cemetery Notes of Interest

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#1           SUGGESTION FOR CEMETERY COMPANIES TO STAY IN TOUCH WITH SUPPORTERS DURING PANDEMIC

 

     Here is how our local cemetery board (Dalhousie Riverview Cemetery Co. Ltd.) kept in touch with supporters.

      Our by-laws state that we must hold an ANNUAL PUBLIC MEETNG each year. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, we were unable to hold a public meeting in 2020. However, our Board of Directors met twice while respecting public health protocols. In fact, our first meeting was held outdoors at the cemetery on a warm May day. At a later meeting, when it was clear we could not hold our fall annual public meeting, we prepared an Update Letter. The letter consisted of financial information from the treasurer’s report, a burial report and information about projects completed this year and plans for next year. These are all things that would have been discussed at a public meeting of our lot holders and other interested parties if we were able to have it. Also included was a copy of the fall Association Newsletter “Etched in Stone” This was included as an update on Association business was always on the agenda at the public meetings.

     The letters were hand delivered to people who would likely have attended a public meeting and other supporters in the community. Masks were worn and physical distancing respected during the delivery. Of course, sending the letters by mail is another option.  This allowed us to keep our supporters informed and interested in our cemetery company.

    #2.                                    Monument Man

          Looking for someone to help fix up your cemetery monuments. There is a company that does just this, called Monument Man.  Here is one response for a job well done and I,ve  heard other very positive reports.

           The cemeteries will continue on long after us...but a part of the legacy we leave like our parents.  The NB Cemeteries Association opened up the discussion with "The Monument Man...aka Jimmy Vanderbrand" which allowed us to upgrade the old cemetery next to the former Coverdale United Church  on Coverdale Road.  He did absolutely amazing work... and although the last burial in that small cemetery was in 1930..with Hazen Gunning (the namesake of Gunningsville)...it has a new lift as a beautiful resting place .  

 

 

   #3                                        Elmwood Cemetery's secret

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#4                                    The Last Post Fund

 

The Last Post Fund Organization was started in 1909 by Arthur Hair. He found a war veteran who was dying and had no money for a burial and he wanted to help this man. Arthur got financial help from the wealthy in Montreal to bury this man and the Last Post Fund was started. It’s purpose is to make sure all eligible war Veterans receive a dignified funeral, burial and head stone. It works in conjunction with Veterans Affairs Canada. A small burial was started on the slopes of Mount Royal in Montreal.

The First World War saw an increase in aid to service men and their families. After the war many men came home and needed assistance in many ways including burials for many of the poor.

The Fund survived on donations but this wasn’t enough so in 1921 they were incorporated and received regular funding from the Federal Government with the requirement to expand across Canada.

The  Great Depression spurned an increase in aid to many veterans because of the poor health caused by poverty and extreme hardship during this era. But an highlight in this time was the creation of the Field of Honor Cemetery in Point Claire, Quebec  that the Last Post owns.  This cemetery looks after the burial of any eligible veteran who can’t afford one.

The organization got more involved during the Second World War  in many chartable and patriotic ways. There weren’t as many burials during this time and this shows how if society is looked after poverty is controlled thus  the health of people is improved. Also the Fund moved the graves from the  disrepaired Papineau Avenue Cemetery in Montreal  to the Field of Honor Cemetery. After the War more than a million soldiers came home but burials didn’t increase due to better social services.

By the 1960’s burials increased again as the veterans had aged and deaths increased but at the same time it was made easier for veterans  to get assistance and  families  of deceased  veterans to get financial help.

By 1998 the Fund was given sole responsibility for the Funeral and Burial Program for Veterans Affairs and it also works closely with the Department of National Defense.

The interment of veterans  in cemeteries is given equal treatment to them  no matter what the status or  their situation. Now other provinces have their own Field of Honor that includes Ontario, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.

#5                 Commonwealth War Graves commission

 

Following the end of the First World War the then Imperial (now Commonwealth) War Graves Commission began the task of marking and caring for the graves of those who died.

One of the biggest challenges facing the newly created organisation was the manufacture of more than 500,000 headstones. The vast majority of these were made by hand, under contract to stonemasons across the United Kingdom.

In recent years it has come to light that a number of mistakes were made in the carving of cap badges. In some cases the badges used are incorrect – for example RAF instead of RFC.

These “heritage errors” will be corrected on an opportunity basis as and when the headstone needs to be replaced.

 

We honour and care for the men and women of the Commonwealth who died in the First and Second World Wars, ensuring they will never be forgotten. Funded by six Member Governments, our work began more than a century ago building cemeteries at 23,000 locations all over the world.

Today, over a century after we first began, our work continues through our staff, supporters and volunteers who preserve our unique cultural, horticultural and architectural heritage and ensure that the stories of those who died are told.

Since our establishment, we have constructed 2,500 war cemeteries and plots, and we have erected headstones over more than a million burials at military and civil sites across the world. For individuals who have no known grave, we have built memorials to the missing as places of commemoration. Despite this enormous global effort, largely completed in the aftermath of the two world wars, this work continues today as we alter or construct new sites where we find our job is not yet complete.

The founders of the IWGC were determined that all the men and women of the British Empire who fell on the former battlefields of the First World War, on land and at sea, should be commemorated equally. The CWGC takes great pride in the principles that drove this work, which said that the organisation would not differentiate between the dead on the grounds of social or military rank, or by religion.

This commitment to equality was delivered across the principal battlefields of Europe but we now know this had geographical limits. For many and varied reasons, in other theatres of war, some casualties were treated differently. As well as maintaining in perpetuity the sites we built in the aftermath of the two world wars, the CWGC continues to research gaps in its commemorations so they can be put right. We work to ensure all the war dead of the Commonwealth, wherever they came from and wherever they fell, are remembered as we promised when we were established.

 

 

 

#6   CONSERVING OUR HISTORIC ESTATE

The construction of memorials and cemeteries to commemorate the dead of the First World War was only completed in 1938 with the unveiling of the Australian Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux. Our commitment expanded globally after the Second World War, and today we care for war graves and memorials at 23,000 locations, in more than 150 countries and territories.

Over the years, our cemeteries and memorials have evolved naturally – ageing but remaining true to their founding design and purpose. More revolutionary has been the changing landscape within which they are located and the way in which the task of caring for them has changed.

Many of our cemeteries and memorials were designed by world-renowned architects, sculptors and artists, and in recent years the significance of our estate has been formally recognised in a number of countries as cemeteries and memorials are listed in increasing numbers or under consideration for World Heritage Site status. With such recognition and protection comes additional responsibility and this is why the Commission has implemented a Heritage Strategy to guide its work for the future.

Our Charter defines our mission as being “in perpetuity” but no buildings last forever, unaltered, without intervention. The aim of our heritage strategy is twofold – to help our staff and public appreciate the inherent “value” of our sites in the wider historical, cultural and commemorative context; and to ensure that any required intervention is identified well in advance, prioritised accordingly and, when implemented, is done sympathetically.

Rather than a process of continual replacement and renewal of materials – many of which (like headstones) are finite resources, we seek to conserve our structures, but remain true to our principle of commemorating the names of the fallen in perpetuity. This means regularly carrying out Structural Condition Surveys of all our structures which, not only identify current, past and even future challenges, but inform the longer term strategy for addressing our structural needs and priorities.

The Commission's conservation philosophy is underpinned by the following Heritage Principles:

Equality of treatment of the dead and missing is of paramount importance

The sites must have a sense of dignity and inspiration

Commemorations must be legible

The heritage value of the Historic Estate must be preserved for future generations

The Historic Estate will be sustainably managed

The cemeteries and memorials must look cared for

 

#7      HEADSTONES

An early expert committee, which included Edwin Lutyens, MacDonald Gill and Gilbert Ledward, considered the issue of legibility. They advised that ‘Inscriptions may be carved in stone for many uses but the monumental inscription is usually designed to be a record for those who care to search for it rather than an announcement to the world — not so much an advertisement as a confidence’.

The legibility of headstones is key to our commemoration of the war dead, and we devote considerable time and resource on inspecting, re-engraving and, where necessary, replacing headstones.

We have Headstone Legibility Guidance to avoid the unnecessary replacement of stone. The casualty’s name must always be legible and further details identifiable. If a headstone falls below the acceptable levels then intervention is required.

Legibility can vary according to the type of stone, the angle and depth of the incisions, the light conditions, the cleanliness and the moisture content of the stone at the time of examination.

The cleanliness of a headstone can also affect legibility, but gentle cleaning is often all that is required. Headstones are not expected to look permanently new; some soiling, marking, lichen etc. is to be expected as the stone is exposed to the elements. 

In many cases, where the stone is basically sound, it is economically and environmentally good practice to re-engrave without removing the headstone. Repairs, such as stone inserts, mortar repair  and re-engraving are carried out as part of our conservation-led approach, and replacement of a headstone should be the last option.

Where there is no choice but to replace the headstone, a suitable replacement stone is used. When the original stones are no longer available, we try to source the most appropriate stone type, both visually and geologically. Ensuring the headstones are of the same stone type gives the cemetery a uniformity which enhances our founding principles of equality of treatment.

Across our sites there are more than 25 different types of headstone, most of which are engraved at the Commission’s headstone production facility near Arras in France. Our conservation-based approach ensures headstones are only replaced when absolutely necessary, typically some 3,000 a year, while in France and Belgium alone around 15,000 headstones are re-engraved each year.

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