Stone Cuttings Newsletter

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

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November-December 2019

A Tribute to the War Dead                      Thanks to Wilf Bruch

Although the “Great War” ended on November 11, 1918, the newspapers of 100 years ago still published a lot of articles and notices about the war and the men who lost their lives. In scanning through them, I came across this touching poem.

No mother on him did attend,

Nor o’er him did a father bend;

No sister by to shed a tear,

No loved one his last words to hear.

Sick, lying in a distant land,

No father near to shake his hand,

No comrade near to close his eyes.

Far from his homeland, he died.

Psychic Tour 

Sunday October 20 at 2:00 p.m.

Dawn Kirkham and a group of other mediums from Beyond Belief Paranormal will be at Ross Bay Cemetery for their fourth annual Psychic Tour. Dawn will start by explaining what mediums do and how they investigate the spirit world. Each medium works in a different way, but generally follows the energy fields they experience as they walk through the cemetery. Some of them will be using equipment to assist in detecting the energy, while others will use their own senses. At places of strong energy they stop and explain what they are experiencing. Some see spirits, others feel, smell or hear them. Last year in a classic demonstration of physical mediumship, one of them was drawn to a recent grave decorated with four small toy windmills, one in each corner of the grave. She requested the spirit present to give her a sign, whereupon each of the windmills began to twirl, one after the other. Needless to say, those observing were amazed. Please avoid parking in the Fairfield Plaza parking lot, if possible.

Halloween Ghost Tour at Ross Bay Cemetery 

Sunday October 27 at 2:00 p.m.

This has been one of the most popular tours since it started in 1990. Participants gather, as usual, at Oregano’s, but will be divided into about ten groups. Each group will be piloted by an OCS volunteer who will take the groups to ten graves along a route in the cemetery where ten storytellers, some in period costume, will be awaiting to spin their tales of ghosts and legends. Each year the route and stories vary, though old favourites are always included. The OCS has a refreshment table as one of the stops where participants can enjoy a cup of hot tea or coffee, munch on a cookie and peruse the books and other merchandise produced by OCS. We’ll start at Stannard Avenue and finish at the caretaker’s shed. Gerry Buydens will organize the pilots and refreshment people. We need volunteers to act as pilots to direct patrons on the tour. If you can help, please contact or 383-4873. Meet before 1:30 p.m. in Fairfield Plaza.

Ghost Bus-Tours

The ghost bus tours started in 1994 as an experiment to see if anyone was  interested in heading out beyond the cemetery to hear ghost stories. The experiment was successful and since then many buses have been booked each year. John Adams, long-time OCS member and owner of Discover the Past, a walking tour company that specializes in ghostly walks,

does the research and leads the ghost bus tours on behalf of OCS. Tours take two hours and follow a different route each year, though John admits that after twenty-six years, he is starting to repeat stories and routes from the past. Stories are told in the comfort of a charter coach which will slow down or stop in front of places that are featured in John’s stories. At two of the locations, the bus will stop and participants will disembark for on-site ghost hunting and to hear the tales associated with the place. One that is always included is the Victoria Golf Course where the grisly story of Doris Gravlin’s murder is recounted, on the spot where it happened in 1936. Her ghost is one of the most frequently observed in the city. Ghost Bus-Tour tickets must be reserved in advance and are available exclusively online at Click the Ghost Bus-Tours icon on the homepage and follow the instructions. Tickets are $39 each. Dates and times are as follows:

Saturday Oct 19 at 7:00 p.m.

Friday Oct 25 at 7:00 p.m.

Saturday Oct 26 at 6:30 and 9:00 p.m.

Sunday Oct 27 at 7:00 p.m.

The starting and ending location for Ghost Bus-Tours will be the Oak Bay Marina parking lot.

Hallowe’en Patrols 

Thursday, October 31; Friday, November 01 and possibly Saturday, November 02

The patrols are a unique opportunity to experience Ross Bay Cemetery at night and at the same time help to deter vandalism. The patrol dates have not been finalized and an email will be sent out to all members as soon as permission to be in the cemetery at night is granted by the Parks Department.

We do our patrols in two shifts, 8pm to 10pm and 10pm to 12 midnight.

If you are able to help out with this events please phone Gudrun Leys at 250-590-5850 or e-mail

OCS Happenings                  Photos by Pat Lydon and Paul Taylor

              Patrick and Steve                                          John Azar

          at the Highland Games                              at the School Tour

          “Let us out!”                                  Yvonne Van Ruskenveld

 Cleaning bee at the School Tour              conducting the Working Women tour

Victoria Genealogical Society Annual Seminar

The Victoria Genealogical Society is holding its annual seminar on Saturday, October 26. Join us for another day packed with genealogical learning! Whether you’re brand new to genealogy or have been researching for years, our speakers bring a wealth of experience and information to help you in your search.

Four sessions to help you with your research will be offered, including a DNA component to help you with those DNA test results you received but can’t understand! Lunch/coffee/tea, handouts and the chance to win great door prizes from, Liahona Guesthouse, Munro’s Books, Victoria Caledonia Distillery and others is included and early bird pricing is on until October 5th.

Check out our website for registration.

Victoria Genealogical Society Speaker Series

SPEAKER: John Azar

Pioneer Square on Quadra Street between Rockland and Meares was Victoria’s first formal cemetery. Established in 1855, it quickly became overloaded after the city grew with the Fraser River and Cariboo gold rushes—the cemetery closed with the opening of Ross Bay Cemetery in 1873. Tales of the people still buried in Pioneer Square include Royal Navy officers, Hudson Bay personnel, early pioneers and many fascinating stories related to the gold rushes. Below are the front and back covers of the OCS publication Tales From The Old Burying Ground.
John Azar is a bit of a history nut. Besides the Victoria Genealogical Society, he is a member of the Old Cemeteries Society, the Victoria Historical Society, chairs a First World War history organization—the Western Front Association-Pacific Coast Branch, and is a volunteer at the Canadian Scottish Regiment (Princess Mary’s) museum. John was one of the guides when the Old Cemeteries Society provided nightly summer-time lantern tours of the Old Burying Ground in the 1990s.
Our VGS Speaker Series is a monthly, genealogy-related gathering — each with one or more speakers who will inform, educate and entertain you.
Doors open at 7:00 pm and each event starts at 7:30 pm on the 2nd                       Thursday of the month (except Jul and Aug) at the ST. AIDAN’S CHURCH HALL, 3703 St Aidan’s Street, Victoria, BC.
Admission is free for VGS members, and by donation for visitors and the general public.

Cremation in Canada – Part 2                        Diane Persson

After cremation: what to do with cremated remains?

There are three basic options following cremation: urns, columbarium, and scattering. Before exploring these, under BC law if there is a written preference by a deceased person about the disposition of his or her ashes, the wish is binding. For example, if you specifically request in your will that your ashes be scattered by the ocean, there is an obligation to follow your request (if it’s not unreasonable, impracticable or will cause hardship).

Ashes can also be mailed. According to Canada Post, human and animal cremated remains can be transported through the mail with these requirements: (1) destination and return addresses are correct and complete; (2) cremated remains are packed in a sealed container and put inside a sift-proof outer container; and (3) cremated remains are accompanied by a certificate of cremation attached to the top of the parcel in a plastic envelope.

After cremation, your ashes can be put in any container you want. It can be a fancy urn, a simple old coffee tin, or any container of personal significance to you. Usually cremated remains are placed in some type of permanent receptacle, or urn, before being committed to a final resting place. An urn is a container designed to hold cremated remains permanently. It can be constructed from a variety of materials such as hardwoods, metals or stone, and should have a capacity of about 200 cubic inches.

Among the many options available, a very common choice is burial of the urn. If another member of the family has already been buried, burial of the cremated remains offers families the flexibility to be placed to rest near each other.

A columbarium is an above-ground structure specifically designed for the placement of cremated remains, and can be found in cemeteries or churches. The compartments within a columbarium are called niches. Most cemeteries also have small plots for cremated remains or scattering gardens. Cremated ashes can be scattered on unoccupied provincial government-owned Crown land or water, including in provincial parks. You can also bury someone’s cremated ashes in private property, including your own yard.

There are no provincial regulations that prohibit the scattering of cremated remains on land, sea or by air. However, no one is allowed to scatter anything on any property without permission from the landowner. Once you have permission and have decided to scatter the cremated remains,  consideration should be given to the permanence of the site and the potential for marking it. Often these sites become a place of pilgrimage for immediate and future generations who want to remember and celebrate the life of their loved one.

A final consideration is whether to have a service. Just because the final disposition is cremation, there can still be a funeral. Families may choose to have a traditional funeral with the cremation taking place afterwards, or to have a memorial service that takes place after the cremation.

There is an increasing interest in creative end of life services that recognize the death and celebrate the life. Celebrations consist of favorite songs, stories, poems, photographs, tears, and of course laughter. Green funerals incorporate trees and plants, both planted in memory as well as planted with the ashes. Ashes can be memorialized into jewelry such as pendants and glass art. There’s no end to creative memorials that ensure a good send-off. And save some of that creativity for writing the obituary, but that’s another story.

         An imaginative urn                                 A pendant                                A glass globe

A Tombstone Tourist                     Wilf Bruch

As I travel the western part of the United States, I am constantly reminded of how extremely vast the Hudson’s Bay Company territories once were. Last year on our way south, we decided to cross the Sierra Nevadas by way of Hwy 89 just south of Mount Shasta, and stopped for lunch in McCloud, California. McCloud is a town of about 1000 people nestled in pine forests in the shadow of Mt Shasta. In 1897, George Scott and William VanArsdale founded the McCloud River Railway Company, bought out a failed lumber mill, and founded a company town, naming it McCloud.

However, the history of this region actually goes back to 1829 and Alexander Roderick McLeod of the Hudson’s Bay Company. In 1829-1830 McLeod lead a trapping and exploration expedition south as far as the Sacramento valley. In his reports he makes reference to geological features that he encountered. Among them are the “McLeod River, “Chaste Mount” (Mt Shasta), “Chaste Valley”, “Clammetti River” (Klamath) and the “siskiyou” (Indian) trail.

Over the years names change, but it’s generally accepted that the original spelling was “McLeod River” and was the original name given by Hudson’s Bay Company trapper and explorer Alexander Roderick McLeod. The cemetery is typical for mountain communities, nestled the pine forests to which it owes its beginnings.

The OCS Web Site has been redesigned!

Have you visited our web site lately? It’s been redesigned and looks new and modern. Have a look for yourself,  A special thanks to Leah Freedman for her work on the  design and transfer of data and to Amber Woods for ideas and editing.

Tombstone Oddities

Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672) was the first published author in North America. Her book of poetry, The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up In America, published in 1650, enjoyed wide readership in the American Colonies and in Britain. Both her father and her husband served as governor of the Massachusetts Colony. She was well educated, unusual for Puritan women of the day and was said to have a library of 9,000 volumes, many of

them lost when her house burned. She wrote about life in the Colonies, of her trials as a mother of eight children, and of her devotion to her beloved husband.

The precise location of her grave has been lost but

historians believe it’s in the Old Buying Grounds in North Andover, Massachusetts. A search is underway to find it. A marker was installed in that cemetery in 2000 to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the publication of her book of poetry.

Last Words

Edith Stein        1891-1942

Jewish philosopher who became a Carmelite nun and died in Auschwitz.

“Let us go and die for our people.”

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.