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Full House at QAHN Cemetery Conferences

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medium_img_1359.jpg--June 3, 2008

The Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network has just wrapped up two half-day conferences on cemetery heritage. The first of these conferences, which were dubbed “These Old Stones,” took place at the Granite Museum in Stanstead.

The event featured guest speakers Heather Darch, curator of the Missisquoi Historical Society, and Charles Marchant, a cemetery restorer with the Vermont Old Cemeteries Association. Darch’s presentation was entitled: “Crisis in Missisquoi County: The Plight of Pioneer Graveyards.” Marchant’s, which included a lecture, slide show and gravestone repair demonstration, was called “Cemetery Restoration: Why Bother?”

The second conference took place at the community hall in Mille Isles, a village in the Laurentians. Carol Martin, of the Gatineau Valley Historical Society, spoke about “Discovering Data and Finding Meaning in Cemeteries.” Sandra Stock, of the Morin Heights Historical Association, provided an impassioned discourse on “Heritage Cemeteries of the Laurentians” (Stock was also responsible for a stunning photographic display of cemeteries in the region). Charles Marchant, returning for this second event, replaced the slide show segment of his presentation with a visit to a cemetery, conveniently located next door to the conference site.

medium_img_1393.jpgConference moderator Matthew Farfan and QAHN executive director Dwane Wilkin gave speeches at both events. In addition, each registrant received a complimentary copy of Cemetery Heritage in Quebec: A Handbook, a new publication by QAHN.

Farfan, who wrote this book, set the tone for each afternoon in his opening remarks, underlining the precarious state of hundreds of the province’s rural cemeteries. “Truly cemeteries in Quebec are at risk,” he said. “And the situation is only going to get worse.”

By all accounts, both conferences were highly successful. Sixty-five people were on hand in Stanstead, with close to eighty in Mille Isles. Participants were enthusiastic about learning more about cemetery heritage in Quebec, and about the many practical issues and challenges facing cemetery custodians in the province.

A participant at one of the two events summed up the afternoon this way: “this has been the best rural conference I have ever been involved in.”