Today, along with other volunteers from the British Columbia Genealogical Society, I attended Mountain View Cemetery's Open House. Mountain View Cemetery is owned and operated by the City of Vancouver and opened in 1887, but many areas in the cemetery have recently been renovated or rebuilt. There is new landscaping, new columbaria and new offices and a Celebration Hall. This event offered Vancouverites and others an opportunity to see those improvements.
The weather was glorious and everyone I talked to was enjoying the music, the tours, the new cemetery facilities and the chance to meet others interested in the cemetery and its history.
Some visitors were from old Vancouver families with many relatives resting at Mountain View. Others were new to the city and wanting to get to know it better. Quite a few were Mountain View neighbours and are accustomed to walking through the cemetery regularly - as one fellow said: 'this is our marble park'. And a few were genuine taphophiles - people with a passion for enjoying and learning about cemeteries.
British Columbia Genealogical Society and Veterans Affairs Canada tables, in the Celebration Hall, Mountain View Cemetery, Vancouver BC. 11 July, 2009
Inscription sandblasting exhibit, Celebration Hall, Mountain View Cemetery, Vancouver BC, 11 July 2009
We brought books and articles about BC cemeteries, including our own index of Mountain View gravestones, and we answered lots of questions about these and about family history research in general.
Our main aim today though was to interest Mountain View Cemetery visitors in joining a new 'Friends of Mountain View Cemetery' group. Many signed our contact list. We hope to encourage and support cultural programmes at the cemetery, including regular tours and the annual Night for All Souls event, for example, as well as heritage preservation and education at and about Mountain View.
By far my own favourite among the recently renovated areas at the cemetery is the Infants section, formerly a communal grave area, which now commemorates about 10,000 stillborn or very young infants buried in the cemetery between 1914 and 1971 - most in common graves. In 2005-2006, this was landscaped with a dry stream bed - "One Stone for Every Infant..." where stones engraved with an infant's name can be placed.
All in all, a very good day. I do hope that Mountain View Cemetery's Open House will become an annual summer event in Vancouver.
If you'd like to know more about the 'Friends of Mountain View Cemetery' group, please contact me at canadagenealogy at shaw.ca