Not your average vacation destination: Toronto man becomes 'cemetery tourist'
Published Sunday, August 5, 2018 6:02PM ADT
Last Updated Monday, August 6, 2018 11:36AM ADT
NEW GLASGOW, N.S. - It’s a summer vacation spot that few people would probably consider, but for one Toronto man, his annual visit to a New Glasgow cemetery is the perfect holiday.
Amateur genealogist Bill Graham began researching his family history five years ago, and it brought him from Toronto to Riverside Cemetery in New Glasgow.
The cemetery has been around for nearly two centuries, and Graham found more than thirty of his ancestors spending their final rest here.
“The ancestors that are here, a lot of them didn’t come on the Hector, but a lot of them are the children of those that did. They’re the ones that built New Glasgow and Pictou County in general,” Graham tells CTV News.
Every summer Graham returns to the cemetery to gather more information, and take care of the seemingly forgotten headstones.
“So many stones that need cleaning, need care, and need someone to remember that they are part of them,” he said.
Graham brings a wire brush, and lightly cleans the marble monuments at what has become his favourite vacation destination.
“It’s a totally restful place. In fact, once in a while, you’re startled because there’ll be 2 or 3 deer run by you.”
The company that runs the cemetery looks after the grounds, but can’t afford to maintain the hundreds of headstones on the site.
Many of the stones are so old, the families are difficult to track down, or may not even exist anymore.
“People have no idea where a lot of their ancestors are. If they knew they were there, I’m sure they’d come and say ‘yes, I’ll go in for a day and I’ll clean that stone,” said Graham.
Among Graham's ancestors are a nurse killed in the Llandovery Castle, and a soldier who died during the first world was – that’s why he heels his work is so important.
“I think, is it any big deal for me to clean their stone? I mean, they gave everything. And I thought, they at least deserved to be remembered and I’m getting kinda old, so this is kinda my last chance to do it,” he said.
Graham wraps up this year’s visit tomorrow, but if all goes as planned he says he will return to the peaceful place to continue fixing the once forgotten stones next year.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Dan MacIntosh.