Abandoned Cape Breton cemetery to be restored
An abandoned cemetery hidden deep in the woods in Cape Breton is getting some attention after a group has vowed to restore the graves and preserve the memories.
Weldon Yates first noticed the cemetery as a child 65 years ago. He says it was in good shape then.
"We used to come out here and play. But now, it's like a jungle. It's a disgrace," said Yates.
He and other nearby residents are hoping something can be done to restore the final resting places.
However, the job would be a big one. Nobody has been buried at the cemetery in more than 60 years. Headstones are broken and covered in brush.
"(We need) some manpower. Some brush cutters. Probably a backhoe to clean it all off (and) reseed it. And just put the headstones where you find them," said Yates.
Yates says the cemetery dates back to 1903. It was largely abandoned in the 1920s when a new church was built, along with a new graveyard. The last person to be buried there was in 1949.
Donald MacGillivray, a spokesperson for the Diocese of Antigonish, says individual parishes are responsible for the upkeep of cemeteries.
But for long-abandoned graveyards, he says the money usually just isn’t there.
"I would think it would have to be volunteer-driven,” said MacGillivray. “Both with the personnel doing it, and also with the funds required to restore it."
While the task may be great, Yates says making people aware is a good first step.
"Open some people's eyes, and get the graveyard back in shape for the sake of the people at rest," he said.
"It just shouldn't be left in this condition,” said resident Beverly Brown. “It's out of respect."
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Ryan MacDonald.