Current Cemetery Projects
Presently there are several significant projects underway within our municipal cemeteries.
On April 27, 2016, the Lower Thames Conservation Authority along with a group of volunteers from Scribendi Inc., Chatham planted 25 trees in Maple Leaf Cemetery, Chatham. These trees have been planted around the Legion Chapel and along Chapel Drive to replace trees that had been removed due to fire blight. There are several more tree planting sessions planned in the future for municipal cemeteries.
Beginning in 2008, staff have been working with representatives of the Lower Thames Conservation Authority, the Rondeau Watershed Coalition and that coupled with assistance from the ‘environmental awareness’ students of John McGregor Secondary School, have been re-developing three areas at Maple Leaf Cemetery. These are:
- An area bounded by Indian Creek Road, the CN Rail tracks and the south side of Mud Creek; and
- An area bounded by an extension of the same Mud Creek and the northern limit of the property (at the foot of the Chapel Drive turn-around).
- The north side of Mud Creek opposite the development near Indian Creek Road and the CN Rail tracks
All areas have seen significant growth over the past six + seasons, which has resulted in considerable development of desirable species and the decline of non-desirable (weed) species. The two areas nearest Indian Creek Road are examples of native Tall Grass Prairie, while the area nearer Chapel Drive contains a wider variety of plant species.The presence of butterflies and songbirds has also increased as a result and some plant species are now reaching the point where we are able to harvest seed for use in other areas.
Dresden Cemetery Restoration
A significant relocation of an historic portion of Dresden Cemetery has taken place. Many graves in the former 'River Range' area were relocated to a secure area within the cemetery due to ongoing erosion concerns. Since that time, a continuation to protect the riverbank was completed by working with local volunteers and area High Schools to increase cover on the banks through selective planting practices. In 2009 and 2010 approximately 250 native shrubs and trees were planted along the banks to help stabilize the site and restore the area to a more natural state..
Memorial Restoration Projects
In 2009, several groups were organized to assist with a variety of memorial projects in a number of Chatham-Kent Municipal Cemeteries. In Maple Leaf Cemetery, a very strong contingent of volunteers worked throughout the summer and fall to locate and uncover over 350 previously ‘lost’ memorials. In both Old St. Anthony’s and Old Maple Leaf Cemeteries, a group of volunteers from Ontario Works uncovered and reset numerous private memorials and cemetery borders - known as ‘fences’. A similar group of Ontario Works volunteers uncovered and reset over 200 memorials in Evergreen and Newcombe Cemeteries.
Since this humble beginning, over 5,000 memorials have since been unearthed and/or documented. Since 2010, almost one hundred twenty five large unstable memorials have been re-set and secured so that they will again, ‘stand the test of time’. A dedicated group of volunteers working under the direction of our Volunteer Coordinator (Dr. Bruce Warwick), has worked through virtually all of Old Maple Leaf and Old St. Anthony’s Cemeteries raising markers that have long been covered by time. In many cases, they have been repairing or ‘righting’ many markers that were long either invisible or in many cases, laid flat due to unstable bases or because the stones had been broken. This group has worked diligently contributing over thirty thousand photographs to a website created by Mr. John Skakel that identifies many of the memorials and traces their efforts over the past six years. The site can be found at www.ckcemeteries.ca or check our ‘links’ page. The 'group' is always interested in adding more volunteers and welcomes you to contact them.
In June of 2011, Chatham-Kent’s Municipal Cemeteries developed the first phase of multiple columbaria developments in a variety of their cemeteries. Columbaria – multi-unit developments comprised of individual niches for the placement and commemoration of the cremated remains of up to two persons - were installed in: Maple Leaf Cemetery (Chatham), Dresden Cemetery, Evergreen Cemetery (Blenheim), and Riverview Cemetery (Wallaceburg). Each development contains both niches as well as in-ground cremation lots, which permit personal flush granite memorialization. Each site will accommodate multiple columbaria and the sites are expected to serve the needs of each community for many years to come.
In 2016, another columbarium is planned for Maple Leaf Cemetery, Chatham due to the popularity of the initial project phase. The installation of seating and completion of concrete walkways is also planned for each of our Columbaria Gardens.
Interest in cremation continues to increase and the municipality has taken a proactive response to this growing demand. Many families and individuals alike have expressed significant interest in these developments and cemetery staff would be pleased to outline the options that are In place to meet your personal requirements. Cemetery staff can be reached at CKpch@chatham-kent.ca or by telephone at 519-360-1998. Arrangements will be made to forward additional information to you in any manner you choose or to meet with you at your convenience. We look forward to illustrating the many choices your municipal cemeteries now offer for those who prefer cremation.