Saturday, January 31, 2009

Burnaby South High School World War II Memorial, British Columbia, Canada

This post is a response to the new Weekly Genea-Blogger Prompt. This week's was 'Take a genealogy day trip and blog about it.'
For some time, I've been meaning to travel away across the city I live in to take new photographs of this Burnaby South High School War Memorial on Southoaks Crescent, just off Sperling and Kingsway, in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada.

On Thursday, I had an good opportunity to do this. The last time I was on this street it was really winter. Then I had to brush the snow and ice off with my mittened hands to read the names inscribed. This week, although it was misty and cold, there was little snow left around. As you can see, several apartment towers now dwarf the park, but many people live and walk in this area or come by when visiting the National Nikkei Museum & Heritage Centre which is in the same block.

The photographs above and below show the Burnaby South High School Cenotaph and the three Memorial Tennis Courts honouring 51 of the High School's students who died in service during World War II. Dedicated on November 10, 1948 by South Burnaby Royal Canadian Legion Post 83 and Burnaby South high school students, the memorial was the site of Remembrance Day ceremonies for the school until it closed in 1993.

At that time, the City of Burnaby designated this area Burnaby South Memorial Park. The 1914 building to the east is known today as the Alan Emmott Centre, but was originally Kingsway East (elementary) School. From 1922, this building was Burnaby South High School's manual training building. In 2002, it was re-purposed as a community centre and is the home of Burnaby's Community-Centred College for the Retired.

In 2004, the Burnaby South memorial courts and cenotaph were re-dedicated by Burnaby South Secondary School and the South Burnaby Royal Canadian Legion Post 83.

The surnames on the cenotaph are:


For more information on any of these, see first the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) website for unit information, place of burial, and other details, usually including next of kin:

Library and Archives Canada now has an index on-line to identify the files held for Canadian World War II dead. Copies of these files can be ordered or you must pre-order to see the files yourself in Ottawa at the Archives:

Burnaby Remembers. The City of Burnaby has sponsored several projects to identify and honour the city's war dead, including those who died in World War II:

See also "Burnaby South High School Students, 1930’s and World War II" by Eunice Robinson, The British Columbia Genealogist, December 2005 Volume 34 #4, p. 178

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Alloway Kirk, Scotland - Burns Grave

Alloway Kirk, Scotland, postcard, unmailed, splitback. (no year given)

addressed to Mrs. J. P. Estham, Gordon Head PO, Victoria, BC

X Burn's father 6th Sept
Dear Mother: We have been to the Burn's Country & we think it more beautiful than ever. Love to all. M. Alexander

All over the world today Scots of all kinds are celebrating the poet Robbie Burns's 250th birthday.

Robert Burns: 25 January 1759 – 21 July 1796

Above is a photo of Alloway Kirk in South Ayrshire, Scotland, the supposed setting for one of Burns' famous poems, 'Tam O' Shanter', and the resting place of Burns' father, William.

Although William Burns' Alloway headstone mentions Agnes Brown (or Broun), Burn's mother, she was not buried here. Her grave at Bolton in East Lothian, Scotland is being restored by the Grants Braes Burns Club.

Burns himself was buried in St. Michael's churchyard at Dumfries, Scotland on the 25th July, 1796. Some years after his death, a mausoleum was built and, in 1815, his remains were interred there.

Photos of the front and back of William Burn's (or Burnes or Burness) gravestone at Alloway Kirk with transcriptions, Martin J. Galloway, Klickthis:

Alloway Old Kirk - photos of some of the other interesting headstones (a blacksmith's, maybe a farmer and a miller's) and of two mortsafes, Undiscovered Scotland:

Graveyard Restoration Project, Grants Braes,The Burns Club:

Photo of the Grave of Robert Burns' Mother (Agnes Brown), kevin 76, Flickr:

1882 photo of Burn's mausoleum, National Burns Collection (search for more images of the mausoleum):

Funeral of Robert Burns, The Burns Encyclopedia:

Image of Burns' funeral procession by W. E. Lockhart, National Library of Scotland :

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Anastasia G. WIENS, Sardis, BC, Canada - Wordless Thursday

Greendale Cemetery (First Mennonite Church and Mennonite Brethren Church), Sardis, British Columbia, Canada

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Epitaphs - the magazine for and by cemetery lovers

Just received my new issue of Epitaphs, Fall & Winter 2008.

Great photographs from around the world - heartbreaking ones by Epitaphs's Editor in Chief, Minda Powers-Douglas in "Chippiannock Cemetery's Storm of the Century", Rock Island, Illinois, USA, intriguing photos by Michele Jankowski about "Saltzburg's [Austria] Gardens of the Dead" - other cemetery photographs are from around the US, and from London, England and Turkey.

And don't miss William 'Terry' Thornton's article about the Graveyard Rabbits - "Taphophiles Are Multiplying Like Rabbits."

Both Terry Thornton and Minda Powers-Douglas are members of the Association of Graveyard Rabbits. Terry, founder of the Association, writes about cemeteries in Mississipi, USA and Minda writes and teaches about cemeteries in the Quad Cities areas in Illinois and Iowa.


Epitaphs, TheCemeteryClub:

The Association of Graveyard Rabbits:

The Graveyard Rabbit of the Quad Cities (IL/IA), Minda Powers-Douglas:

Graveyard Rabbit of the Hill Country, Terry Thornton:

Monday, January 19, 2009

Chinese Canadian funeral procession, Victoria, BC, 1918

The Early Chinese Canadians, 1858-1847 is a new on-line exhibition from Library and Archives Canada.

Among the features of the exhibition is a 1918 film of a Chinese Canadian funeral procession in Victoria, B.C. I thought some of the readers of a previous post here about Victoria's Harling Point Chinese Cemetery would want to see this.

It would be interesting to know what research has been done about this event and the film.

My previous post -

Harling Point Chinese Cemetery, Victoria, BC,Canada, January 4, 2009:

The Early Chinese Canadians, 1858-1947, Library and Archives Canada:

Chinese funeral procession, 1918, Allan D Taylor collection, Library and Archives Canada:

Sunday, January 18, 2009

My Key to Ireland: Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture, 11th Edition - IRWIN and MOFFAT, County Cavan

Just a couple of years before I began researching our family tree, my mum and I travelled to Great Britain together on a sight-seeing trip. She knew our Irish immigrant ancestors’ names – Mary Jane MOFFAT and James IRWIN – but believed they had come from County Armagh, so while in Ireland, we gave the obligatory wave to the family roots, but no more than that (as we did in York, England – at least we were closer to the truth there).

Very soon, perhaps even because of our trip, I decided to start researching. My original goal was to identify each of my North American immigrant ancestors, their places of birth and when they came to Canada.

I did start with myself, or at least, my mum and dad, and worked backwards in the approved manner, but in fits and starts, as I was working and had teenage children. I searched Ontario and Manitoba census records on microfilm and combed through Ontario microfilmed indexes of births, marriages and deaths. I made copies or sent for copies through the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, and collected quite a bit of information.

We did have IRWIN relatives besides our branch who had come to British Columbia though. The earliest one I knew of was James IRWIN (b. 1860, Victoria County, Ontario, Canada) who had settled in Sardis, BC. He was a brother to my mum’s grandfather, William IRWIN; both were sons of James IRWIN and Mary Jane MOFFAT. Our families had been in touch for years so I already had his date and place of death. In BC, registration forms for earlier deaths (currently up to 1988) are indexed and available on microfilm, so his was one of the first family death registrations that I looked at. His daughter had been the informant. She gave both his parents’ names, and in both cases, she had said their place of birth was County Cavan, Ireland. She could have been wrong, of course, but with this in mind, I went looking to see who else was researching IRWINs. Since I knew the family had lived in Ontario, I checked the Ontario Genealogical Society’s members' surname interests and queries and soon I did find two other relatives researching the same IRWIN names and places; one had done years of research already. We were soon in touch and the County Cavan, Ireland origin was confirmed. I was then able to get a copy of James and Mary Janes’s marriage – at the Coroneary Meeting House in the Townland of Coroneary, Knockbride Parish, District of Cootehill, 18 August, 1846. This led me to much more information. There's a tip - always look at collateral relatives, especially brothers and sisters of your direct ancestors.

I knew where they had died – Neepawa, Manitoba, Canada. At the turn of the century, after their children had gone west from Ontario to Manitoba in the 1880s and 1890s, Mary Jane and James had migrated to Manitoba too, settling in Neepawa. The Riverside Cemetery in Neepawa offered lookups and sent me a transcription and the location of the grave, but it wasn’t until 2003 that I was able to visit.

Riverside Cemetery in Neepawa is an often visited cemetery with several ‘important’ graves and a beautiful location. I did have one genealogical tip brought home to me there – don’t assume. By 2003, I had visited a lot of cemeteries. My family are mostly ‘ordinary’ people; few even have gravestones. I had checked with the Riverside office so I knew there was an IRWIN stone, but somehow I couldn’t find it. Finally a cemetery worker volunteered to re-check the location and lead me to the spot. Heavens! James and Mary Jane had a tall standing monument. I must never have even looked at it – I had been right by there already. Even though a bit hot and bothered by that time, I did appreciate the joke on me – I must have only been looking for something small and low.

JULY 13, 1910
Asleep in Jesus blessed sleep
From which none ever wake to

APR 22 1909

Mary Jane died first. Did she have her own stone after her burial or was this one erected then and James’ details filled in later or was it only erected after James’ death? This monument seems really James’ – Mary Jane is identified as “His Beloved Wife” but her own surname is given. The cemetery’s burial index identifies her as ‘Mary Jane IRWIN (Mrs. James)’, burial date: 24 April, 1909. James was buried the 16th of July, 1910. The grave’s location is: Lot: 212, Block: D, Row 19.

Here’s something else to be careful of too. The cemetery’s burial information omits Mary Jane’s surname, but as well, the inscription transcription I received originally said “Asleep in Jesus blessed sleep From which none ever wake to sleep.” The monument though says “to weep”. Always check the original. Now that digital photographs are so easy to take and to share, it’s perhaps less of a problem to double check cemetery inscriptions.

Both the ‘Asleep in Jesus’ inscriptions seem to be common and are from the hymn by the same name written by Margaret Mackay, published in 1832, and inspired, she said by a cemetery inscription seen at the Pennycross Chapel in Derbyshire, England. (Words to the poem were published in the Baptist Reporter and Missionary Intelligencer, New Series Volume X, edited by Joseph Foulkes Winks (London, England: Simpkin, Marshall & Co., 1853. See below.)

And just to show that I am not too, too serious about all this, here is one of the Riverside Cemetery postcards I send home to my children from Neepawa – Gilles is one of the cats. (We have no family rabbits.)


Riverside Cemetery, Neepawa, Manitoba, Canada. On-line burial index, history:

IRWIN and MOFFAT, County Cavan, Ireland - 8th Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture. A previous post with a photograph of Mary Jane Moffat and James Irwin:

‘Asleep in Jesus’ historical notes and music:

‘Asleep in Jesus’, mentioned in English Hymns: Their Authors and History by Samuel Willoughby (New York, USA: Duffield Funk & Wagnalls, 1886) p. 46. Google Book Search:

‘Asleep in Jesus’ text (printed without attribution), Baptist Reporter and Missionary Intelligencer, New Series Volume X, edited by Joseph Foulkes Winks (London, England: Simpkin, Marshall & Co., 1853), p. 8. Google Book Search:,M1

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Harling Point Chinese Cemetery, Victoria, BC, Canada

Photographs taken May, 2007 by M. Diane Rogers

The land for this cemetery was purchased by the Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association in 1903. Before that many Chinese Canadians had been buried in Victoria's Ross Bay Cemetery, but in a section prone to erosion from the ocean. Many of the Ross Bay graves were exhumed and the burials relocated at Harling Point after 1903.
For some, this was only a temporary spot - their bones were later sent to China for burial as they had wished, but after the mid-1930's, this was no longer possible. Some, whose bones were stored in the hope of future reburial in China, were finally laid to rest in mass graves here in the 1960s.
For many years, Victoria's Chinese-Canadian community worked to raise money to refurbish the cemetery and to raise awareness of its significance in Canadian history. In 1995, this cemetery was designated a National Historic site, the only cemetery west of Toronto and Ottawa to be so recognized. In 2001, the cemetery's refurbishment was completed with funds from the community and from the governments of British Columbia and Canada.

The Harling Point Cemetery is close to Ross Bay Cemetery, and is now in a highly residential area where once Chinese Canadians were forbidden to buy property, but the landscape with Gonzales Hill behind and the rocky areas nearby apparently provide good feng shui, most important in a burial site. I believe this is usually a very peaceful spot, although I have never been there when it is stormy. Families do come now to clean graves and pay their respects at the altar during the springtime Ching Ming Festival. Wildflowers still grow here among the old grave stones while the sea and the tide worn rocks lend their own beauty to the cemetery.

Members of the Old Cemeteries Society of Victoria, BC, sometimes offer tours at Harling Point. If you are planning a visit, check the Old Cemeteries website for up to date tour information.

There is a film about the cemetery and its history, From Harling Point, directed by Ling Chiu for the National Film Board of Canada in 2003. Participants in the film were Jim Wong-Chu, Charlayne Thornton-Joe, Edna Chow , David C.Y. Lai (also the historical consultant), Geraldine Peet and Paul Chan.


From Harling Point, National Film Board, Canada:

Old Cemeteries Society of Victoria, BC, Canada: