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Laurentian Cemeteries at Risk

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--December 18, 2007Edina Cemetery, Brownsburg. (Photo - Sandra Stock)

Sandra Stock has just finished up an inventory of historic cemeteries at risk in and around the Laurentians. Stock, who is both president of the Morin Heights Historical Association and a director of QAHN, agreed back in the fall to conduct this inventory on QAHN’s behalf, and as part of the organization’s Cemetery Heritage and Restoration Initiative (CHIRI), a project designed to gauge problems facing cemeteries historically linked to the English-speaking population of Quebec.

Reached at her home in Morin Heights today, Stock reported that she had visited no fewer than 35 cemeteries around the Laurentians, from St. Andrews East, to Arundel, to New Glasgow. Of those 35, she said, at least 17 should be considered at risk – and some of these at extreme risk.

Stock cited air pollution, vandalism, encroachment, neglect, a dwindling English-speaking population, and a lack of interested and capable local volunteers as the main threats faced by the cemeteries she visited.

Scotch Road Cemetery, Grenville. (Phot - Sandra Stock)One cemetery, dating to about 1820 and serving as the final resting place for local Irish veterans of the War of 1812 (according to oral tradition), has been completely and utterly reclaimed by the bush. “No one knows about it,” Stock said, “except for this one family that hopes to have it declared a historic site. This is an amazing survival given our climate and vigorous flora. We were the first people outside of the family to be shown this site and we had to promise not to bring anyone there without permission and without being accompanied by a member of the family.”

To date, inventories of cemeteries at risk have been completed for the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region, and are currently in progress for the Eastern Township (Estrie) and Montérégie. One hundred and fifteen cemeteries (and counting) have been deemed at risk to date, and that number may double by the end of the project next spring.