Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My Story's Buried at the Graveyard Rabbits Carnival.

The theme for this month's Graveyard Rabbit Carnival is "In the News". Write a blog post about something you read or heard in the news (recent or past) that pertains to a cemetery.

This month in the Vancouver area where I live there was a sad cemetery story - but not about a 'human' cemetery - it's about a pet cemetery in Surrey, B.C., the only one in the area here. Before the 1990s, some 600 pets were buried in this privately owned cemetery at an estimated cost of about $600 each for graves and headstones.

The cemetery land was later sold and the cemetery has since been neglected. Soon the land may be available for housing development.

There is still a restrictive covenant, but that expires in January of 2010. It's said that the developer offered to sell the land so that the cemetery could remain, but the price was too high.

This story has attracted a lot of comment locally and now it appears that there are at least 2 human gravestones here too - there might even be human remains. One stone, for example, identifies Murial L. Clerke as a corporal in the W.A.A.F. (British Women’s Auxiliary Air Force) who died in 1981, on the 16 August, aged 57.

Kevin Woronchak, owner of North Vancouver’s Until We Meet Again Pet Cremation Inc., is campaigning to save the cemetery. One solution would be to persuade the City of Surrey to make the area a public park. Kevin Woronchak can be reached at 604 - 924-1160.

"Push on to turn pet cemetery into park" CBC News, Wednesday, November 18, 2009.
Surrey pet cemetery nears end by Dan Ferguson, Surrey North Delta Leader, article with video, November 19, 2009.
"So long, Snowball: Surrey pet cemetery to be redeveloped" by Pete McMartin, Vancouver Sun, November 19, 2009.
"Veteran's memorial stone found in abandoned Surrey pet cemetery.
Save Our Pet Cemetery campaign launched"
by Stuart Hunter, The Province, November 18, 2009.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mountain View Cemetery Tour - November 22 - Vancouver BC

Ellen Jewel TWISS, Section Officer, Royal Canadian Air Force, Women's Division. Born 1914, died in 1947 at age 32. Commonwealth War Graves Commission stone, Mountain View Cemetery, Masonic section, Plot 105, Lot 1, family plot. Parents: William James Twiss and Sadie Jewel Twiss. Photographed October 2009, M. Diane Rogers.

Mountain View Cemetery, Vancouver, BC.

In Honour of Remembrance Day Tour - with Lorraine Irving.

In this cemetery, you will find three areas dedicated to veterans.

On this tour, we will feature Commonwealth War Grave monuments starting at the Celebration Hall and ending at the Cross of Sacrifice. Along the way, you will hear stories of veterans, including a nursing sister.

Sunday, November 22, 2009 at 10 a.m. - Meet at the Mountain View Cemetery Celebration Hall & Courtyard (enter cemetery from 39th Avenue at Fraser Street). $10 each person. (Cash only please.)

No reservations needed.

Hot chocolate will be served after the tour - between 11:30 am & Noon.

Mountain View Cemetery, 5455 Fraser Street, Vancouver, BC V5W 2Z3
Phone: 604 - 325 - 2646

More information, including details on tours in 2010, is at the Mountain View Cemetery website.

Related Links:

Canadian Forces after 1918 (including Second World War), Canadian Genealogy Centre, Library and Archives Canada - research sources for Canadian military, including information on obtaining files for those serving in the forces during World War II and database for files of Canadian military killed in WW II, including Ellen Jewel TWISS.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

The Maple Leaf Legacy Project

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Artists and the Green Funeral Movement - Dec 9 2009

Mountain View Cemetery, Vancouver, BC - Special Event

Artists and the Green Funeral Movement
Wednesday, December 9, 2009 from 7 - 9 pm
Mountain View's Celebration Hall and Courtyard.

Presented by Mountain View Cemetery and the Britannia Art Gallery.

Two artists, Paula Jardine, Mountain View Cemetery's Artist in Residence, and Joseph Montague, ceramicist and printmaker, will join Glen Hodges, Mountain View Cemetery's Manager, in a panel discussion.

This should be a very interesting evening.

Mountain View Cemetery
5445 Fraser St., Vancouver.
Telephone 604 - 325 - 2646
Mountain View Cemetery website.

In British Columbia since the 1950s, there has been a strong interest in alternative funeral and burial practices, for example, in cremation. It's estimated that 80% of British Columbia's dead are now cremated. While cremation is still often seen as a modern alternative, many now question its effect on our environment and are looking at 'green' burials. A recent article by Darcy Wintonyk for CTV British Columbia, "The Green Hereafter: Eco-burials gain popularity" summarizes some of the debate around this issue. (Published Monday, 7 September 2009 at article link )

The Memorial Society of British Columbia, incorporated in 1956, is BC's only volunteer based memorial society - members have often been in the forefront of change in the province. One of the goals of the Memorial Society of BC now is "to promote environmentally sound arrangements for disposal of remains" and the Society was honoured with the Vancouver Island Human Rights Coalition 2008 Award for its work towards the development of the first green burial site in British Columbia - at Royal Oak Burial Park in Victoria on Vancouver Island. There is more information about green burials on the Society's website.

Royal Oak Burial Park, open since 1923, since 2008 has offered "natural or green burials" in its 1/3 acre Woodland where there are only communal memorial stones. Ashes (cremains/cremated remains) may be scattered in the Woodlands area or Royal Oak offers "'hybrid’ natural burials" in regular burial lots where individualized markers may be placed. For more information about this, see the Royal Oak Burial Park website.

Only one other cemetery in Canada currently offers green burials, and a number of cemeteries in British Columbia require concrete vaults so that even 'hybrid' natural burials wouldn't be possible. Mountain View in Vancouver, however, does allow burials without concrete liners or vaults and as well allows for "multigenerational" use of a family grave or plots.

In addition, the new Celebration Hall and the newer outdoor features lend themselves to more personal commemorations at death as well as to the annual public memorial events created by Paula Jardine, Mountain View's Artist in Residence.

The cemetery's new buildings' display spaces are available to feature artists' funerary works. Joseph Montague has been involved in creating a number of funerary pieces, one of which was chosen for the 'Ashes to Art' exhibition in 2008.

See a catalogue of Joseph Montague's work on his website and see the Public Dreamer website for a look at some of Paula Jardine's work.