As Elise MacLean strolled through the graveyard at her church in Cap-Pele, N.B., she thought about how challenging it must be to maintain all of the headstones.  The first one that caught her eye belonged to a 10-year-old child who died in 1907.

“Most of the people that’s in this cemetery, that I paint their headstone, they got no family to take care of them,” says MacLean.

Weather has taken a toll on many of the markers, some of them dating back to the late 1800s.

“I had been coming to the cemetery regularly… and I would always say ‘they should do something, we should do something,’ and I never took action, but Elise took things in her hands,” says resident Patricia Niles.

MacLean grabbed a paintbrush and, since June, she has spruced up more than 300 gravestones.

“You see a rock; you don’t see the decoration that’s in it.  You look at it and say it’s just a rock, but once you put paint on it, everything comes out,” says MacLean.

Inspired by MacLean’s actions, others in the community soon came to help. Some even brought tokens of thanks in recognition of her efforts.

“The people were really nice to me.  They gave me lobster to eat.  They bring me coffee from Tim Hortons…donuts,” says MacLean.

 “It’s the miracle of volunteerism that I find amazing, and to see the community gathering,” says Father Louie Boudreau.

Congratulations to Elise MacLean, our Maritimer of the Week!


If you know someone deserving of our Maritimer of the Week award, we want to hear about it.

It doesn’t matter how old they are, the nature of the good deed they’ve done, or what part of the region they live in – we want your ideas!

Please send your nomination to:


Maritimer of the Week
P.O. Box 1653
Halifax, N.S.
B3J 2Z4