Unique Remembrance Day ceremony held in forgotten N.B. community
Published Monday, November 11, 2013 6:51PM AST
Last Updated Monday, November 11, 2013 6:54PM AST
Every year, a unique Remembrance Day ceremony takes place in a community that no longer exists, and hasn’t been home to anyone for 60 years.
That community was New Jerusalem, located in the heart of present day CFB Gagetown in New Brunswick.
Every year, families return to a cenotaph at the site to honour fallen soldiers and their former homesteads.
“They are people whose families lived in this area and now it’s the children of those people that are coming and grandchildren and perhaps great-grandchildren,” says Connie Denby of the Gagetown Community History Association.
Before the site became CFB Gagetown, the countryside was dotted by a couple of dozen communities, mostly farming settlements, that all disappeared around the same time.
Hundreds of families in the area were told they had to leave to make way for a new army base.
Bob Johnson remembers it as a thriving community. He was 10 years old when his family left New Jerusalem.
“The day we left our farm for the last time, the tanks were coming down across the hills,” he says.
“I got to thinking about that in later years, how my dad must have felt, leaving the nice house he had built and was married. Leaving the ancestral grounds and all the friends and neighbours spread dear knows where.”
Forty cemeteries are scattered all over the base, serving as a reminder of the past.
“There’s no indication when you drive around this country today that anybody ever lived here,” says former resident Machum McKinney. “But there’s a great indication a lot of people died here because the cemeteries show up. They’re all fenced with white posts.”
“Some were happy to move on and others, it broke their hearts,” says Denby. “Land had been in families for generations, and to pick up and move elsewhere was very difficult for people.”
With files from CTV Atlantic's Mike Cameron