Of Cemeteries and Stories

It’s that time of year when the Galt starts gearing up for summer cemetery tours. It’s also the time when we start to make decisions about what stories to include on the tours.

Perhaps the tour could focus on some of the artists of southern Alberta, such as Frederick G. Cross and Irene McCaugherty. Or on the Mounted Police Field of Honour in Block 1 of Mountain View Cemetery. And we could include stories such as that of Alfred Perry, a 19-year-old labourer from England, who joined the Mounted Police in July 1888. Less than a year later, in June, he was drowned crossing the river. Perhaps we’ll tell of Staff Sergeant Frank Sexton, an 18½-year veteran of the Mounted Police, who died from pneumonia in 1910. Or Constable F. Gordon Counsell, who was killed by Charles Hanson in the 1940s in a standoff at a farmhouse in the Parkland area.

The tours could be centred on Lethbridge’s military past. In both the First and Second World Wars, the highest ranking person from Lethbridge was a Brigadier General, and both of these men are buried in Mountain View Cemetery. Not far from them is Paddy Bowman, who earned an Order of the British Empire for his role in D-Day planning.

Scientists and inventors of southern Alberta could be a tour in itself. Charles Noble and Otto Wobick, both instrumental in creating blades to successfully cultivate land in our windy climate, are both buried in Lethbridge. So, too, is William Fairfield, an agricultural pioneer who, among many successes, realized that by bringing soil from Wyoming, he could get alfalfa to grow in southern Alberta.

Cemeteries are places where the stories of our past reside, waiting to be heard. You’ll have to join us on one of our evening tours this July and August to see which stories we chose to share.