Mystery surrounds unmarked graves near Moncton museum
Published Friday, October 6, 2017 10:28PM ADT
It seems the city of Moncton has a bit of a mystery on its hands.
It's thought there could be up to 200 graves in the cemetery near the Moncton museum, but the identity of many who lie there remains a mystery.
Moncton Heritage and Culture co-ordinator Lawren Campbell believes someone in the late 70s, early 80s tried to make the graveyards more aesthetically pleasing.
“Unless you're moving bodies around, that doesn't really do a lot for understanding who's with what,” Campbell says
Long before that in the 1850s, the Elmwood Cemetery opened and people bought family burial plots there. Instead of a full exhumation, just the headstones were moved, leaving the graves unmarked.
Provincial archaeologists were then called in with ground penetrating radar. Because of the age of the site, no bodies were found. Teams instead were looking for distruptions in the ground where a grave would have been dug.
Back in 1821 when the Moncton population was less than 1,000, multiple congregations built the public house because there weren't enough members to form their own church. From there, they created a Omni denominational graveyard.
There's been a lot of construction at the Moncton museum, mostly around the perimeter. Campbell says no graves have been disturbed, and with future work planned, the city wants to keep it that way.
“We're going to have to have, at the advice of the province, have an actual archaeological consultant watching the dig happening and using a little bit different machinery to do it little by little,” Campbell says.
It's impossible to know how many people are interred at this site, but the city wants to at least try to acknowledge those who are buried at the graveyard.
“Do we strike a committee to raise money to fix it up a little bit, or what do we do with the known gravesites now that have no markers?” asks Campbell. “Do we create a generic tombstone that we put at each spot, or one single one that kind of honours all the ones that don't have stones?”
Many of the stones bear familiar names to the area, including Weldon, Trites and Steadman. Lawren Campbell would like to hear from anyone who may have photos or information about the graveyard in hopes of putting this mystery, and those who lie there to rest.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Jonathan MacInnis.