Community

Volunteers sought to clean historic headstones

The public is being asked to volunteer a bit of time, like Michelle Chan (above) has done, to help with the gentle cleaning of the historic headstones in the Fort Langley cemetery. This year’s cleaning happens  from July 9 to Aug. 27.  - submitted photo
The public is being asked to volunteer a bit of time, like Michelle Chan (above) has done, to help with the gentle cleaning of the historic headstones in the Fort Langley cemetery. This year’s cleaning happens from July 9 to Aug. 27.
— image credit: submitted photo

Many of the older headstones in Fort Langley cemetery no longer have individuals to care for them, and so the public is being invited to help preserve the reminders of our community’s roots.

The volunteer project was instigated in 2009 in Fort Langley. It moved to Murrayville Cemetery last year and is returning to Fort Langley this year, said Kobi Christian, curator of Langley Centennial Museum which organizes the project.

The historic Fort Langley Cemetery was created in 1884 at 23105 St. Andrew’s St.

It was the first municipal cemetery established in Fort Langley, and is the final resting place of many of the area’s pioneer families.

The first burial was Robert Mackie, father of the municipality’s first warden, or mayor. Many of the granite and marble monuments are elaborately carved and decorated, and some grave sites are still surrounded by their original wrought iron fences.

To the north side of the cemetery is a granite First World War memorial to the fallen men of Langley, which was later rededicated to commemorate those who served in the Second World War as well.

Using nothing more than soft brushes, spray bottles, buckets, or watering cans, participants can help clean and preserve the stones, some of which have held up better than others that are covered in years of lichen, moss, and dirt.

In the past, the project to clean and preserve has had a positive outcome in the cemetery, and Christian hopes to see this happen again this year.

“It’s a Saturday morning drop-in experience, and no special skills are required,” she said, adding that museum staff will be on hand to help volunteers.

“We always err on the side of caution so we don’t damage irreplaceable stones,” she said.

The first cleaning session will be held on Saturday, July 9 from 10 a.m. to noon, and will continue on Saturday mornings until Aug. 27.

“It’s amazing what a difference the cleaning makes. Even those driving by will see the improvement,” Christian said.

To sign up to volunteer or to find out more about the project, contact Christian at kchristian@tol.ca or 604-532-3536, or drop by the cemetery on a Saturday morning.

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