Burlington cemetery planning for future growth, history

by Sara Keddy/Kings County Register

BY SARA KEDDY

Kings County Register

Cemeteries generally make good neighbours, and Burlington’s Bobby Daniels is returning the favour.

He’s recently agreed to sell a piece of land to the Burlington Cemetery in a partnership over the next four years: the cemetery committee will pay a quarter of the selling price each year, and Daniels will continue to work the unused part of the land with his farm over the same period.

“He’s part of the community,” cemetery committee volunteer Brian Hirtle says. “It’s all just working out.”

In the past two years, the small, mountain cemetery has taken on new life: a group of about 15 volunteers interested in its upkeep, history and future community potential have rejuvenated the care and connections between the property and its neighbours.

Just last week, maintenance man Tom Metcalf sold seven plots – in one day!

“We generally have about a dozen burials a year,” Hirtle says. “That’s our average already.”

Brian Hirtle, right, and Tom Metcalf are part of the community care going into the Burlington cemetery in the past year. S.Keddy

But with families looking at the cemetery in a new light – repaired fences and headstones, pruned trees and groomed grounds, its non-denominational guides and plans for future development (the $150 cost for burial rights is not a hard sell, either) – Hirtle and Metcalf agree there will be growth in demand.

Locally, 18 people turned out for last year’s cemetery clean-up- “We never had that before, and many hands make light work,” Hirtle says. This year’s cleanup is set for May 5 at 6 p.m. (rain date May 12). “There’s not much to do this year.”

More widely, the cemetery committee’s website development and other residents’’ interest in history have attracted worldwide attention: 5,000 people have visited the website.

“It’s because of our genealogical work and the community history – we’re connecting projects that really fit.”

There’s a great deal of satisfaction in just the past drive: 47 graves registered to be in the cemetery remain unmarked, but volunteers have been able to fix the plots of many forgotten people, mark them and create biographies for future reference. Hirtle highlights six Bay of Fundy-based sea captains buried here, a First World War female doctor who joined the American army and a respected and innovative pilot, inventor and engineer. Graves date back to the 1780s.

“It’s historic.”

The new land to the west of the north side of the cemetery (Barley Street bisects the site) adds 850 feet of road frontage, 80 feet deep, for future growth. Hirtle anticipates the committee will expand in 100-foot increments as needed.

“We felt the purchase of the land was right – at the right time, with people interested in doing the work now where there may not be in 10 years, and because it came up.

“We have to keep it in the forefront, generate the sale of plots, pay for the work and the plans for improvement.”

”We’re providing a future for the community.”

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