Sunday, October 25, 2009

My Epitaph - Graveyard Rabbits Carnival - November 2009

In former times, it was the custom to write for fanciful conceits on the tombs of the dead. Acrostics, anagrams, rebuses and puzzles were frequently met with, and no doubt the mourning relative thought that they thus paid a high mark of respect to the memory of the deceased; but to what good end? Surely here in God's Acre, if anywhere on earth, true reverence and simplicity should be found. No skilful conceit of man can ever take the place of the Word of God, even though it be as pointed and direct as that quaint epitaph written in the form of an acknowledgement from the Great Mother
who will one day clasp us all to her bosom:

"Received of Philip Harding his borrowed earth, July 4, 1673.

from "English Epitaphs", by W. Everard Edmonds.1 Victoria Daily Colonist, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Sunday, 2 June 1907, page 24. (Read the full article at the British Colonist website.)

The challenge for the November 2009 Edition of the Graveyard Rabbits' Carnival was to write my own epitaph.

'Plan Your Epitaph Day', an international observance for November 2nd each year, coincides with All Saint’s Day, often known as the Day of the Dead, and was created by Lance Hardie, "committed epitaph crusader and consultant".

This challenge wasn't hard as when I first published this blog, I included as a side piece a depiction of the epitaph that I hope is appropriate for myself - Most Days She Did Her Best.

Now it's true that, on the back, I'd like to see my dates and place of birth written and, if I could, a family tree showing at least my parents, grands and greats too.

But I'm set now on being buried in Mountain View Cemetery in Vancouver, BC, where my parents, my uncle, and my paternal grandparents and my paternal grandmother's parents are buried, as well as a good assortment of other family. I doubt there will be room for a big stone just for me!

1. The Harding epitaph, I believe, was from Crudwell, Wiltshire, England. See Antiente epitaphes (from A.D. 1250 to A.D. 1800) collected [and] sett forth in chronologicall order by Thomas FitzArthur Ravenshaw (London: Joseph Masters & Co.. 1878), page 127. Read this at the Internet Archive.

Reverend W. Everard Edmonds, born in Ontario, Canada, wrote several books and articles about Canadian history. After World War I, Edmonds, a high school teacher and an Anglican minister, was Editor of the Alberta Historical Review, the journal of the Historical Society of Alberta. "The Historical Society - early years 1907-1952" by Hugh A. Dempsey (Alberta History, Autumn 2007 - read on-line.)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Night for All Souls - Mountain View Cemetery - Vancouver BC Oct 30-Nov 2 2009

A Night for All Souls was created by Paula Jardine, Mountain View's Artist in Residence, in 2005. Here is an article from the Vancouver Sun, 27 October 2008, about last year's event.

In 2009, there will be new participants and new activities at the Night for All Souls event, from October 30 to November 2, 2009.

It begins on Friday, October 30th with prayers at sundown. As in previous years, there will be materials on hand to create your own personal memorials or you can join one of the workshops this week. World Tea Party artist Bryan Mulvihill and Ian Willie/Raven Thunderbird will hold a tea ceremony to honour First Nations people buried at Mountain View and, for the first time, local poets, led by Vancouver's Poet Laureate, Brad Cran, will be present reading at various locations in the cemetery. The evening closes at 10 pm.

On Saturday, October 31st, from 8 to 11 pm,Vancouver’s Helping Mex y Can Society will be co-hosting an evening of Mexican traditions to honour the dead with mariachi music, ancient dances of the Aztecs, and traditional Mexican refreshments. There's a Facebook page for this event here.

On Sunday, November 1st, in the afternoon, from 2 to 4 pm, Poet Laureate Brad Cran and poet Stephen Hollis will host a tribute to the late poets Robin Blaser, Kuldip Gill, David Dawson and Billy Little.

Monday, November 2nd, from 5-6 pm, there is a last opportunity for memorials.

And on Tuesday, November 3rd, the closing ceremony will be held at noon.

For more information, see Mountain View Cemetery, Vancouver - on Facebook - on Twitter

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Roadside and other Public but Personal Memorials - Future Genealogy Source

Further to my last post, Looking for Death Information - Thinking about Genealogy Sources , I'm currently reading Private Grief, Public Mourning: The Rise of the Roadside Shrine in British Columbia by John Belshaw and Diane Purvey. (Vancouver, BC: Anvil Press, 2009). I picked up a copy of this new book at Word on the Street in Vancouver last month.

Many of these memorials are, by their nature and construction, ephemeral, but these may also be sources of death information. These often very personal memorials which may be constructed and contributed to almost anonymously are not necessarily all roadside memorials, although those may seem to have the most attention. Memorials in parks or at residences are perhaps less likely to stay up for long.

And, in some jurisdictions in Canada, governments, with the assistance of MADD Canada, are placing permanent memorial markers at traffic accident sites.

Some, including the media in crime cases, are photographing these kinds of memorials, as these authors have done, so collections of today's personal memorial images and records may be available to future researchers.

Here are just a few links to collections and articles on-line

Roadside Memorials, Don Baccus.

"Crosses, Flowers, and Asphalt: Roadside Memorials in the U.S. South" by
Tom Zarrilli. Southern Spaces, published 19 August, 2009.

A Photo Journey of Mexican Roadside Memorials from the Surf-Mexico Guide to Surfing and Adventure Travel in Mexico website.

Folklore of Roadside Memorials, by psolis, Pablo Solis, at Squidoo.

Looking for Death Information - Thinking about Genealogy Sources

David Rogers' grave, 1927, Mountain View Cemetery, Vancouver, BC, Canada.

The other day, for fun(!) and for a genealogy class I'm teaching at the Burnaby Community Centred College for the Retired, I sat down with a cup of tea, paper and pen, and made a list of all the sources for death information I could think of at the time. Some will have dates of death, others will have cemetery information or the cause of death, but all are potential sources for genealogical death information. Now I've put an asterisk beside those I've used or found family information in during my own research.

I know there must be more sources, perhaps some very obvious ones - please do comment!


*Insurance records
*Land records (deeds, assessments, petitions, etc.)
*Cemetery records (including burial records, photographs)
*Funeral home records or crematorium records
Coffin plates
Memorial jewellery or other momentos
Post-mortem photographs
*Newspaper obituary or article or notice
*Government or other records (other than strictly death related) e.g. disaster reports, commissions, year-end reports of epidemics or mortality, or attorney-general or police or court records (including coroner’s reports), etc. Lists, notices, correspondence regarding government aid to orphans, widows, or burial assistance. Also voters lists and the like.
*Tombstone inscription
*Funeral programme
*Government notices of deaths (e.g. in a newspaper for particular months)
*Death certificate/death registration of individual (or a family member)
*Family letters
*Marriage applications, registrations, invitations, etc. of related person
Pension applications
*City/community directories
*Proved will of individual; wills of family members or others
*Church records, burials, burial charges/services (e.g. burial in wool – England 1666-(1770) 1814), memorial gifts or bequests, sessional records, etc.
*Organization or association records or publications, e.g. Royal Canadian Legion – ‘Last Post’; lists or notices of graves visited on 'Decoration Days'. [Also burial assistance records or cemetery records, if the organization has a cemetery or owns cemetery plots for members' use.]
*Community history book
Ship’s passenger lists
*Family photograph of grave/funeral/monumental inscription
Monument makers record
*Genealogical publications or databases, e.g. D.A.R. applications, also family genealogies
*Guardianship applications
*Medical records –physicians or hospital, also autopsy reports
*Memorial or funeral cards
*Probate or estate files, wills, applications, inventories, etc. of individual or another person
*Census – mortality schedules
*Genealogical/historical society recordings of monumental inscriptions
School records and publications
*Military file of individual or related person
*Urn or container of cremains with official or other label
*Legal ads – newspapers, government gazettes. Also auction or other sale notices
Pension records for individual or related person (company, private, government)
*Family bible or other record, family journals, diaries [My grandmother's address book was very helpful - she even added dates.]
*‘In Memory’ website or Facebook page.
Employment records or publications
*In Memoriam notices – newspapers, other publications. Also Cards of Thanks. [Found a newspaper notice from my great uncle remembering his step-sister - 10 years after her death. That's how I found her date of death.]
*Oral or other family tradition, e.g. ‘died at sea’. [My grandmother remembered lilies of the valley on her brother's grave.]
*Funeral, monument or other cemetery related receipts
*Memorial monuments or rolls (other than cemetery related), e.g. cenotaphs, community memorial plaques
*Union records and publications
Certificate of burial/cremation or transfer/transport of body/ashes

(I'm not thinking about indexes here as those should lead us to the actual documents and artifacts. )

And I could have added:

*Obituary collections - printed, on-line, or in card files, etc. from individuals or genealogical/historical societies/museums, etc. [Hope I am not taking these for granted!]

*Birth records of related individuals may have information on deceased parents, etc.

Receipt for purchase of one share BC Electric Power and Gas Company Ltd., from estate of David J. Rogers, 1927. To be paid to G.W. Hamilton, Esq., Undertaker, Vancouver, BC, Canada