New Brunswick

Headstones in Fredericton's Old Burial Ground to be refurbished

The City of Fredericton is charged with maintaining the burial ground, the final resting place for many of the area's Loyalist settlers. With the help of an archeologist, the city is beginning the process of repairing and restoring those gravestones.

Many of the 900 gravestones have been in disrepair for years

Archeologist Robyn Lacy specializes in burial sites. (Jon Collicott CBC)

The headstones in Fredericton's Old Burial Ground are getting some much needed attention as the city prepares to begin refurbishing the graveyard..

Hundreds of the gravestones have been in disrepair for years. Many have fallen over or are leaning drastically, while others have eroded, drawing criticism from heritage advocates in the city. 

The City is charged with maintaining the burial ground, the final resting place for many key figures in the area's history. With the help of an archeologist, the city is beginning the process of repairing and restoring those gravestones.

Robyn Lacy, an archeologist specializing in historic burial grounds, has pored over photos of the 900 gravestones in the Old Burial Ground. 

"I was able to look at them all and sort of assess the condition of every stone," said Lacy.

Archeologist takes stock of Fredericton's Old Burial Ground

4 months ago
2:19
The downtown Loyalist burial site has been in disrepair for years. 2:19

Lacy compiled a report that is more than 900 pages long, detailing the condition of each stone and how they could be repaired or restored. 

"We have a sheet for every single gravestone. And then that information will be used by the city moving forward to sort of guide the care for every headstone," she said.

Old Burial Ground in downtown Fredericton (Jon Collicott CBC)

The city has contracted masons in Halifax to repair 12 of the stones this year.

"The intent for this year is to really focus on monuments that pose an immediate health and safety risk to the public," said Ashley Goggin, a city project engineer. 

"And then subsequent to that will be things that are acitt immediate risk of irreparable damage to the stone itself." 

The city has allocated $50,000 for the repairs and refurbishment of stones. Goggin did not know how many years that funding would be available but said it was a long-term project. 

One of several of the grave stones that is broken. (Jon Collicott CBC)

This week was Lacy's first visit to the site since taking on the project. 

"It looks better in person than what I could see individually in the photos," she said. 

"This is like what you see with a lot of large municipal burial grounds. It takes quite a lot of work to do to restore these stones. And a lot of them are over 200 years old. So it's really common to see them fall over on their own, ones laying on the ground, stones that are broken."

Hundreds of the grave markers are in disrepair. (Jon Collicott CBC)

Goggin said the city's parks and trees division will also spend more time actively maintaining the burial site.

"They will be here multiple times a week to monitor it. Annually, we're going to be assessing the condition of the stones to make sure that even vandalism hasn't taken place," she said. 

Goggin says those new maintenance protocols will be before council in the fall. 

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