New Plans for an Old Cemetery

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When I first heard there was a cemetery somewhere across the street from Save On Foods in Fort St John, I was puzzled. According to the location description I walked right past it all the time. How do you miss a cemetery?

It’s easier than you think.

When I finally found it I discovered it holds no more than ten graves and while it was difficult to read the headstones while leaning over the chain link fence (I have terrible eyesight) it looked like most dated back to the 1930’s.

Right now the cemetery is on the edge of an empty lot surrounded by chain link fencing and some temporary fence panels in preparation for the construction of the new North Peace Savings and Credit Union office building. To the south is the parking lot for the existing North Peace Savings and Credit Union and to the north is a boarded up house and beyond that, the government liquor store and other shops.

It is a bit of a bizarre location, until you consider that up until its recent demolition, the site was home to St. Martin’s Anglican Church. But that, in turn, makes it even more intriguing. Why so few graves? And why are they all from the 1930s (though I might be wrong about that).

I bet there are some interesting-but no doubt sad-stories that someone out there could tell.

The North Peace Savings and Credit Union have taken on their unusual inheritance with what appears to be thoughtfulness and respect. They have applied to the city to have the 12 by 15 metre graveyard rezoned from commercial to a parks and natural area. According to an article in The Alaska Highway News, plans include memorial signage, a high branching tree, lighting, and a two-metre high ornamental permanent fence.

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Here is another shot of the graveyard as it looked this afternoon, with the boarded up house and beyond that, the liquor store/mini-mall to the south. Grave markers are interspersed with stumps from what looks like trees removed in the last year or so.

I keep thinking about this little graveyard, the people who were buried there and what it will look like when everything is done.

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This is from the south side of the graveyard facing east towards 100 Street and Save On Foods.

The stumps you see on the other side of the chain link cross fence and the clearing beyond it will be where North Peace Savings and Credit Union will be erecting their new office building. Between the far stumps and 100 Street is where St Martin’s Anglican Church once stood.

In keeping with the time period, I think it would be a nice touch to add a border of pioneer period perennials such as Hansa roses, peonies, irises, tiger lilies, maltese cross, sweet williams and maybe a lilac and/or caragana  hedge. All plants that I believe would have been planted in the Peace Country back in the 30’s or at least shortly thereafter.

Or maybe indigenous wildflowers would be more appropriate or….hmmm. Maybe the bank will need a volunteer gardener.

Or maybe I just need to plan my own garden before I go all guerilla on Fort St John!

Do you know anything about this gravesite? I’d love to know more about it.

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