A cemetery in Wolfville is facing thousands of dollars in damage after vandals made repeated visits to knock over old headstones.
Chris Fuller, the manager of the Willowbank Cemetery on Gaspereau Avenue, said he first noticed in September that eight headstones were knocked down. In mid-November he found another big headstone on the ground.
On Thursday he said he found the biggest amount of damage yet, with 14 headstones in one row down. Four or five headstones in a separate area were also knocked down.
"There's a whole row of them knocked over, and we're talking stones 80 to 100 years old. Big, big stones," he said.
Fuller said the smaller headstones weigh between 300 and 500 pounds, and larger ones weigh considerably more.
"It'd be hundreds and hundreds of pounds. Some of them would be well over a thousand pounds or more, easy," he said. "To get those over, you would need more than one person and you would really have to give a shove."
Fuller said some of the headstones were about four feet high and a foot wide, and sitting on a flat surface.
"You would really have to have an effort to knock that beast over."
Cost in the thousands
Fuller said he has contacted a company with a boom truck to help him pick up the larger stones, but some of the stones are in an area that won't be accessible by the truck, so he doubts they will ever be set upright again. He estimates the cost to the cemetery will be between $4,000 and $8,000.
He added that two or three of the stones are broken, as they had ornate carving or spires on the top which snapped when they hit the ground. Fuller says the cemetery serves all denominations and was started in the 1880s, and he hopes that someone will report the culprits.
"Disappointment, extreme anger. Frustration I guess is the best word, incredible frustration. A lot of history in those stones, a lot of families. A lot of beauty in the old place," he said.
Cpl. Jennifer Clarke said Wolfville RCMP are investigating the incidents.
"Our hope with talking to the public with this is that someone will come forward with information because obviously it's a horrible thing to have someone that you love in a graveyard and their headstone has been damaged," she said.
Fuller said the cemetery has some money put aside but the expense of repairs will put a dent in that fund.
"You always have unexpected costs — windstorm damage and stuff, that's nature. But human damage, you'd kind of like to believe that's something you don't have to worry about. But I guess you do," he said.