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Graves crumble at pioneer cemetery

William Silvester, with the Colwood Heritage Commission looks on from behind a gravestone that has broken off on the top and leaning over after years of neglect. Colwood hopes to begin restoration this year. - Arnold Lim/News staff
William Silvester, with the Colwood Heritage Commission looks on from behind a gravestone that has broken off on the top and leaning over after years of neglect. Colwood hopes to begin restoration this year.
— image credit: Arnold Lim/News staff

Colwood mulls restoration of historic site

Wale, Kelly, Wishart and Peatt.

These are not just familiar roads stretching over miles on the West Shore. The names, synonymous with Colwood’s history, are also covered in dense moss, amid cracked ledgers and broken monuments.

With a history stretching back more than 100 years, grave sites of many families in the Colwood Pioneer Cemetery are badly in need of repair and restoration.

“They are pioneers, the first people who lived in this area,” said William Silvester of the Colwood heritage commission.

“It is important that people know where they came from, it gives them a better idea of why they are the way they are, and gives them better ideas for the future.”

On land originally donated by Alfred Thomas Peatt in the 1800s, the ailing cemetery is now in the hands of the City of Colwood, which reviews its spending budget March 6 and 7 at committee of the whole meetings.

The last restoration work on the Glencairn Lane cemetery was completed in 1993, but Silvester called the minor repairs a “Band-Aid.” He said money simply hasn’t been made available for restoration work over the past decades.

Colwood intends to fund the difference from the $9,200 work estimate to help restore the cemetery, but in tight financial times, nothing is set in stone.

The heritage commission has $4,500 in a maintenance fund for the site.

“At this point in time (money) is included in the budget and we plan to get those repairs done this year,” said Colwood Coun. Cynthia Day. “As soon as the budget is approved we would contact the contractor to get the works underway.”

Supportive of the project and cautiously optimistic, Day hopes restoration could start as early as April, but that will be dependent on budget allocations. The cemetery may be repaired in order of importance if money isn’t there in full.

“The cemetery is one of the most beautiful places in Colwood,” Day said. “Shortly it will be a great place to take photographs, it is very peaceful and it has lots of heritage.”

In the meantime, the former site of a Presbyterian church sits, with green moss covering many of the grave sites, some of which are unmarked, cracking or rotting away.

“Everyone in there has had their story, family and hopes and dreams. It is humbling to go there and see all these people that came before and it is almost forgotten now,” Silvester said. “The people in there are at the beginning of our history and it is good to remember them.”

editor@goldstreamgazette.com

 

 

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