Neglected 'Baby Triangle' restored at Saint John cemetery
Nearly 300 children buried at the site for no clear reason between 1940 and 1958
A nearly forgotten resting place of nearly 300 children buried at the Cedar Hill Cemetery in Saint John in the middle of the 20th century has been restored and rechristened the "Baby Triangle."
The infants were placed in one section of the cemetery between 1940 andn 1958, however, over the decades the site began to disappear among all the other graves and it became an overgrown and neglected space.
Starr Dashwood was executive director of the cemetery in 2007, when she was asked by a family to find an infant relative.
That lead her to the Baby Triangle, which she said was in obvious disrepair.
"When I had the family over to search for the baby and help them out, it was kind of embarrassing really. So I thought we should do something here," said Dashwood.
No visible trace of most infants buried
Dashwood said staff went back to the records and found the names of 286 babies buried on the site.
Many of the markers had sunk into the ground and were rediscovered when crews began their work.
They only found about a dozen markers for the hundreds buried, said Dashwood.
"I can't understand why families back then wouldn't want to mark where their babies were, but maybe circumstances wouldn't allow it," she said.
Laurie Hossack's baby sister, Dawn is one of the few with a marker.
He said it is a reminder of a close relative he never had a chance to know.
"I can remember the funeral at Brenan's and I can remember her little white casket and that's about all," said Hossack.
Hossack said the girl died when she was 11 days old of a hole in her heart — something that had a profound effect on his mother.
"She was in the hospital for over a month before the baby was born and she was just ready to take her home when the baby died," he said.
At nearby Barnhill School, those circumstances became an opportunity for students to learn about Saint John life in the 1940s and 1950s.
Jackson Hume said learning about the Baby Triangle project offered a chance to appreciate advancements in medicine and to reflect on lives cut short by diseases such as polio.
"Now we have vaccines and mothers are told not to do certain things with their babies," said Hume.
Allie Scott, a classmate of Hume, said learning about the Baby Triangle was difficult.
"It's sad because there's a map of where they're buried, but without grave stones relatives wouldn't be able to find you," she said.
Dashwood agrees that the project was overwhelming.
Some of the babies buried in the triangle are only known by their last name.
She said fortunately, all of those records are still intact.