Dust off the tombstone

Ty Dunham
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Labrador City watchdog wants to see cemetery cleaned up

Outside the Labrador City town limits, chimes ring out in a gentle breeze as the sun pours its heat from overhead. A cloud of dust blows from behind the wheels of a truck with Ontario license plates. It parks in front of a gate and two men walk through the entrance of the Interfaith Cemetery to visit old friends.

John Picco left Labrador City in 2010 after calling it home for 40 years. Walking with a cane, he spots the names of those he once knew. Picco points to a gravestone, remarking how he once worked on the man’s floors. 

His friend, Reginald Pike, points out another familiar name. Visiting Labrador West for the first time in 36 years, Pike first arrived in 1961 and left in 1978.  

“I left a lot of friends behind and I never knew what happened to them. I’m seeing most of their names here,” he said sombrely.  

Picco swats at blackflies as he overlooks the cemetery.  

“It’s beautiful compared to what it used to be; really nice. I came here years ago and there wasn’t much to it. It could have a bit of pavement here though, and there’s all kinds of dust.” 

As the two men continue to note the names of old friends, Pike doesn’t mind the mosquitoes or the dust. It doesn’t affect the purpose of his visit.  

But it’s not the inside of the cemetery that led Labrador City resident Gord Parsons to write to town council, although he admits he’s not happy about it either. It’s the cemetery’s surroundings Parsons would like to see someone take responsibility over.  

“There are ruts going in (to the cemetery). Most all graveyards have a drive in, drive out area covered with gravel so you can bring the hearse. I’m concerned about the pile of gravel. There’s no landscaping. And there’s a moat, attracting flies and mosquitoes.” 

After visiting well over 200 cemeteries for both geocaching and to enjoy the tranquility, Parsons considers himself well versed in what’s acceptable for gravesites and what dishonours the dead.  

“The storage of the poor old bodies, you’ve got rocks and sticks and everyone else. It’s a nice little spot while you’re waiting for the spring to bury them, but you could do a little better than that, couldn’t you?” 

Parsons also notes a gravel bank in front of the cemetery with ATV tracks and weeds growing on top.  

“And I’d like to see them address the fence rather than a prison pen surrounding it, but that’s up to them. I realize beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

Although Parsons’ complaint is the only official complaint the town has received, he knows he’s not the only one who feels the cemetery isn’t up to par.  

“I have a lot of friends buried in here, and I have a few older people I take for drives occasionally and some of them like to come up because their friends are here. They’re pretty much the same as me. They don’t say it as forcefully, but they’re not happy about it.” 

Parsons would also like to see the road paved, but said it’s unnecessary to have a high grade.  

“I don’t ask for this road to be done as a highway; a bit of Class A on top of it, throw the asphalt over it like a driveway and you’re done.” 

Labrador City Mayor Karen Oldford said although she agrees she would love to see the road paved, she doesn’t see it happening any time soon.  

“Will the road ever be paved there? With the cost of paving, I sincerely doubt it will ever be paved. That’s just a reality of the cost factors we’re dealing with. It’s tough to pave a road where you’re not getting any revenues from whatsoever.” 

Oldford also said she doesn’t see the same eyesores.  

“I visit the graveyard fairly regularly, my father-in-law is there. I truly don’t have the same concerns Mr. Parsons has for the area.”

Oldford planned to attend a meeting with the Municipal Services Committee Council on Wednesday, July 9, to look at who owns the cemetery, who’s responsible for it, the policies around it, and if there’s room for improvement.  

“I think the most prudent thing to do is to get the information and meet with the ministerial association and figure out a path forward. I would think the ministerial association, if there were issues or concerns, we would have heard from them.” 

ty.dunham@tc.tc

Organizations: Municipal Services Committee Council

Geographic location: Labrador

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Recent comments

  • steve
    July 14, 2014 - 14:15

    Just add 30 .00 to each taxpayer in the community and put it toward upkeep of the cemetary.How else would you pay for this?

  • Bill Pendergast
    July 14, 2014 - 13:43

    Labrador City Mayor Karen Oldford said although she agrees she would love to see the road paved, she doesn’t see it happening any time soon.   “Will the road ever be paved there? With the cost of paving, I sincerely doubt it will ever be paved. That’s just a reality of the cost factors we’re dealing with. It’s tough to pave a road where you’re not getting any revenues from whatsoever.”  Well I think the majority of those people paid plenty of revenues during their lifetime. One word, Respect.

  • Gary connors
    July 14, 2014 - 09:21

    I have a lot of friends up there and now I have my dad there. A lot of work needs to be done. I see a lot of the old crosses need to be replaced if I had a place to do it I would have had it done long ago. Love to see a new fence and something done with the road.its not a lot to ask to have a nice place to goto and visit your loved ones is it .

  • Charlotte Lessard
    July 14, 2014 - 09:11

    I totally agree with Mr. Parson's comments