Stone Cuttings Newsletter

Our Newsletter is published every two months and is currently produced and edited by Russ Stewart.

July – August 2021

Report on the Annual General Meeting for the Old Cemeteries Society for 2020

Gerry Buydens

The Annual general Meeting for the year 2020 was held on Wednesday, June 16, 2021 at 7 p.m. in the garden of Ross Bay Villa. We were gifted with a lovely evening from the weatherperson. There were about 30 members present.

Due to COVID, we were given an extension to the date by which an AGM must be completed. Again due to COVID regulations, we held an outdoor meeting with people properly spaced.  The president opened the meeting by welcoming everyone and noting that it had been a different year with COVID.

The treasurer, Gudrun Leys, went over the financial statements and answered questions. The financial statements indicated that we had a net income of $5,120.73. Considering that we had to cancel about 8 weeks of Sunday tours and the Ghost Bus Tours, it was a great outcome.

The President’s report had been distributed in advance of the meeting so he only highlighted a couple of items.

Wilf Bruch spoke about the status of the gate project for Ross Bay Cemetery. It appears to be held up for some unknown reason.

The Executive for 2021 will be: Wilf Bruch- Past President; Gerry Buydens- President; Steve Thomson-Vice President; Gudrun Leys-Treasurer; Michael Halleran – Secretary and members at large are: Linda Richards; Paul Taylor; Shannon Johnson and Shirley Waldon.

The speaker for the evening was John Adams of Discover the Past. He spoke about his forthcoming book on the Chinese who came to Victoria, where they were from and what they did while in Victoria. He highlighted a few families and their accomplishments. It was a very interesting talk and we are all waiting for the book to be printed in the next three months to read about the details of many other Chinese families.

The President thanked John Adams for a great speech and thanked everyone for coming out.

Yvonne thanked the Zoom crew that has been facilitating our tours this year. In person tours will start on Sunday, June 20.

The sprinkler system activated and we all left quickly as the meeting had ended.

Upcoming Tour Program

July 4. RBC. Gossip in the Graveyard. Today’s tour is all about the scandal and gossip that surrounded some of those buried at RBC.  An OCS team has been collecting some of the choicest tidbits that kept tongues wagging in bygone days and are still a source of amazement and entertainment today.

July 11. RBC. Our Happy Home. Today’s tour title is from a recent book about Ross Bay Villa, past, present and future. Built in 1865, even before RBC was established across the street, Ross Bay Villa still stands on Fairfield Road. By the early 1990s the house was neglected and hidden by undergrowth. Dedicated volunteers restored it and now the Ross Bay Villa Society owns and operates it. Society members will lead a tour at RBC to graves of people connected with the house; then at the Villa itself where refreshments will be served.

July 18. RBC. BC Joins Confederation. British Columbia became Canada’s sixth province on July 20, 1871. This tour will reflect on those buried at RBC who were instrumental in making this happen, in spite of many obstacles and much opposition. Who do we have to thank (or blame) and what did they do to achieve their goal? John Adams will dig deep into our past to answer these questions.

July 25. RBC. Sports in Victoria. Victoria has a rich and varied sporting history, both in team and individual competitions. Some sports may surprise you, while others are familiar and continue to thrive to this day. On this new tour, we’ll visit the graves of competitors (including one who went to the Olympics) and others involved in Victoria’s sporting life.

Aug. 1. RBC. BC Place Names. It’s the BC Day long weekend and the perfect time to learn more about our beautiful province. Ross Bay Cemetery contains the graves of many individuals who have places in BC named after them — some of these folks were famous, some were once famous but are now forgotten, and others never were famous but somehow their names live on. We’ll visit a selection of graves of the famous and forgotten.

Aug. 8. RBC. Skeletons from Victoria’s Closet. True tales from a side of Victoria that may surprise you. An OCS team will reveal stories that may shock you with their revelations of the goings-on that expose a less-upright side of Victorian society.

Aug. 15. RBC. Annual Obon Ceremony. This is the Japanese Buddhist Day of the Dead when graves are cleaned, incense is lit and prayers are said. The ceremony will be at the Kakehashi Monument in the southwest corner of RBC, near the corner of Memorial Cres. and Dallas Rd. The public are invited to the ceremony that takes the place of a tour today.

Aug. 22. RBC. Music in Early Victoria. Music was an important part of culture in 19th-century Victoria. In today’s tour, historian and performer Kate Humble will visit the graves of singers, musicians and music teachers to tell their stories and sing some of the tunes that were popular in their day. A unique, entertaining tour not to be missed.

Aug. 29. The Jewish Cemetery. In October 1859, within a year of the first Jews arriving in the city, the Hebrew Benevolent Society purchased 1.7 acres from the Hudson Bay Company for a cemetery.  Officially established in February 1860, it was the first Jewish cemetery in western Canada and is B.C.’s oldest non-indigenous cemetery still in continuous use today. Our tour will offer an overview of the influences of Jewish customs and beliefs on the creation of a cemetery landscape as well as how the site reflects the community’s history, its present and its future.  Meet at the main gates on Fernwood Rd. at corner of Cedar Hill Rd. Men, please wear a hat.

Sept. 5. RBC. Emily Carr Tour – Part 2. This is the second of our tours about Emily Carr, whose grave is one of the most visited at RBC. Join our team of OCS guides and Emily herself (a.k.a. Molly Raher Newman) who will visit the graves of many people Emily knew and wrote about in The Book of Small and her other writings. Today’s tour is different from the one on April 18.

Sept. 12. RBC. Re-thinking Point Ellice House. Last week’s tour featured a young woman who grew up at Point Ellice House. This week, Kelly Black, historian and manager of Point Ellice House National Historic Site, examines the stories of other members of the O’Reilly family, their neighbours, friends and business associates. Peter O’Reilly, often portrayed as a pillar of the community in Victorian society, can also be seen in a different light that will be discussed today.

Sept. 19. RBC. A Day of Signs and Wonders. Today’s tour title is the name of award-winning author Kit Pearson’s novel about the fictitious meeting between Emily Carr and Kathleen O’Reilly on a beach one day in 1881, a day in which a comet appears. Kit is a frequent tour leader at RBC and is the author of many novels for young readers.

Sept. 26. RBC. St. John Ambulance in Victoria. St. John Ambulance (SJA) is a familiar presence to many, offering first aid courses, and volunteer Medical First Response at public events. Our local branch traces its history back to 1911. On today’s tour, SJA members will tell the fascinating story of the history of St. John Ambulance volunteers in our community.

Work Parties Ross Bay Cemetery                                                  Wilf Bruch

We have had a few work parties so far this year to do maintenance on our row markers and to raise a few sunken graves. The work party pictured here was to re-paint the Grimm iron fence (C26/27E22). We hope to have more in July, so if you are interested in helping out, let us know by contacting the office by email .

Do you have a story to tell?

The demise of the OCS journal Stories in Stone left us with no place to publish longer articles that our members might want to share. In an effort to partly fill the gap, Stone Cuttings has been publishing longer items submitted by our members. While there is no strict limit on length, articles should be reasonably brief and of general interest to our members. Book reviews and photos relevant to your article are welcome. Submit articles to The editor reserves the right to edit or reject any item.

Tombstone Oddities                                                   Thanks to Sherri Robinson

                                     Grave of Maxine Menster in Cascade, Iowa

Last Words

Lepa Radic  1926-1943

Yugoslav partisan who was executed at age 17 for shooting at German troops.  As her captors tied the noose around her neck, they offered her a way out of the gallows by revealing her comrades’ and leaders’ identities. She replied “You will know them when they come to avenge me.”

Membership Renewal Form

It’s time to renew your OCS membership for 2021. Please circle type of membership:

Individual $30 Family $45 Student $20

Donations are greatly appreciated $________ OCS is a registered charity. Income tax receipts issued for donations greater than $10.

NAME:___________________________________________________________ ADDRESS:_______________________________________________________

PHONE #:________________________________________________________


Make cheques payable to The Old Cemeteries Society and mail to P.O. Box 50004, RPO Fairfield Plaza, Victoria BC, V8S 5L8

Membership cards are issued only if requested.

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