As the Story is Told: The Cemetery, Part 5 – The 1970s and 1980s

As the Story is told: A history of Morpeth and communityEvery week, I share an excerpt from my Great Aunt’s book, As the Story is Told: A History of Morpeth and Community, which was printed in 1986. Note, this is a historical text and I don’t necessarily agree with all of the authour’s views or turns of phrase.

…continued from last week…

The seventies.
This decade passed with many improvements attained. The voluntary summer work gatherings added much to the appearance of the grounds. Mr. C. Stirling, alone, took on the job of painting the steel fence. In 1979 the new part was prepared for use, tiled grassed and mapped.

The seventies saw the retirement of two very long term, dedicated persons. In 1971 Mr. Norman McLachlan retired after twenty years as secretary. In January of 1976 Mr. Clarence Stirling retired after twenty four years as trustee being replaced by Murray Stirling. Mrs. Hazel Early was named secretary in 1972 and held this position until ill health in 1979. Mrs. Early did considerable work on the maps. We appreciated the service rendered by Norman, Clarence and Hazel.

1983 Morpeth, Ontario cemeteryThe eighties.
The board met with all kinds of red tape from the Cemeteries inspector regarding the plan on the new section. However we have emerged from a shoe box record to an index card, filing cabinet system. We became registered with Revenue Canada and can now issue donation receipts for income tax purposes. This has had a dramatic impact on our finances.

Our community suffered a great loss in the death of Douglas Brackett in 1982 and Jim Smith in early 1983. Doug served from 1964 and Jim from 1948, nineteen and thirty five years respectively. What a record of dedicated service.

In 1982, after a very generous gift, the board undertook rebuilding the crumbling field-stone pillars at the entrance using cut stone.

In 1984 the steel fence was dismantled and made level again by work bees. In a few years the grounds will be more attractive as thirty two ornamental trees, flowering, deciduous and evergreen were donated in 1984. In 1985 the board grouped and placed the overturned and broken stone markers from the old section in three cement slabs locating them as close as possible to their original position. The present trustee board members are Max Smith, Peter Rose and Harvey Smith.

Morpeth, Ontario cemetery 1983Morpeth Cemetery Monuments represent the change in materials used, craftsmanship and inscription. In the oldest section most of the markers are made of quite soft white marble, subject to weathering until now the small inscriptions are almost illegible. Most of these stones were thin slabs, two to four feet high, some very ornate. Most of them record detailed information and many bear four line epigraphs. Sandstone markers are less prevalent. There are geometric forms, obelisks and columns as well as the slabs. Granite being very hard did not lend itself to the tools available at the time and was much more expensive. At the turn of the century granite became more prevalent and was usually rectangular in form, just look as the burial sites moved toward the south west in our cemetery. These markers lost most of the old individuality, inscriptions became very brief and now are little more than a stone name plate. Low horizontal granite markers are also used.

Fund raising projects through the generations have been plays, socials, card parties and dances, raffles, oyster suppers and always Memorial Services with their generous donations.

Bequests have been received from the estates of Mrs. James Rigby, Alberta Robinson and Edna Unsworth. We are grateful for these gifts and appreciate the sincere desire of these benefactors that these grounds remain well cared for.

Through the annals these names appear as secretary: A. Leibner, J. W. Scane, A.B. Kimmerly, Mrs. V. Early (1935 for the sum of $5.00), George Barnwell, Earl Winters, Norman McLachlan, Hazel Early and K. McLean.

As auditors: E.O. Leibner, J.W. Scane, Vernie Early, J.R. Serson, Amy Coll, Earl Winters, Archie McDiarmid, Blenheim, Mrs. A. Walters, Annie Early, Claude Rose, Fred Walters, Marie Rose, Hazel Early, K. McLean and Margaret Brackett.

As caretakers a special group: Dan Clark, John Barker, Charles Woods, Tom Rylett, Mart Hall, Freeze Smith, Wm. Rabideau, Glen Galbraith, Norman Carnie, O. E. Wickwire and Wm. Magee.

Lloyd Smith told me how careful and proud his father was of his work while caretaker. We owe gratitude to all these men. Back in the early and not so early days they were paid the princely sum of twenty cents an hour. Now economy dictates that hand labour be replaced by machines. Wm. Magee began his duties in 1960 and we are indebted to him for his interest in and knowledge of these grounds. In 1978 the lawn care was separated from other duties relieving the board of many problems. We were fortunate that Charles Tompkins and family cared for the grass in 1978-80 and since then Alan and Mac Connoly have given us reliable service.

Before concluding, our appreciation is expressed to Marjorie Giddis for the many years of attractive landscaping enhancing the entrance to our cemetery grounds.

For the most part those serving on the board have done so to the best of their ability with little or no pay. Some names may not have caught my attention but none were purposely omitted. We admit that mistakes were made, there were misunderstandings, usually due to the lack of adequate and accurate records.

The Morpeth community has pride and respect for this burial ground. Vandalism has been almost negligible and generosity heartwarming. I am confident that each succeeding generation will carry on the service of respect for this secluded hill. May it remain a credit to Morpeth.

Map of Morpeth, Ontario cemtery

Map of Morpeth, Ontario cemetery

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