In search of the lost cemeteries of Argenteuil
Public asked to help research project
JULIE GODIN email@example.com
LACHUTE: On a sunny Tuesday in the Protestant cemetery in Lachute, Argen- teuil cultural agent Catherine Lapointe and historian Robert Simard explain their new project to index all the graveyards in the MRC of Argenteuil. The goal of the operation is to compile a list of grave sites in order to preserve the heritage of Argenteuil. At the same time, Lapointe issues a call for everyone to help find private cemeteries. The idea to locate all the cemeteries of Argenteuil came to- wards the end of 2011 when Lapointe ap- plied for subsidies to finance the search. For her, the initiative is vital as it will help to sensitize the families of the people who are buried there. «It is important to pre- serve the cemeteries because they are part of our history and of our heritage. Some grave markers are illegible or completely erased. When we criss-crosses the cemeter- ies, we see several very well-known family names. I am certain that descendants of these families would one day be curious to see where their ancestors are buried,» she says. The MRC is also trying to index the many private cemeteries in the MRC. «In the past, the churches were not always close to all residents. Certain families proceeded to bury their loved ones on their own land,» Lapointe recalls. At the moment, she has catalogued 30 public cemeteries and 30 private graveyards. The difficulty in finding private plots lies in the fact that they sometimes are over- looked. «There is as strong chance that cer- tain residents bought houses without even knowing the existence of private cemeter- ies on their properties,» she says. This why she has issued an appeal to the public and people whose land contains pri- In addition to contributing to the collect- ivememory of a community, cemeteries re- veal much about the history and lifestyles of the first residents of Argenteuil. «The materials employed in the manufacture of the headstones and the symbols that are engraved are different according to the vate final resting places. Revealing plots
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Photo Julie Godin
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Catherine Lapointe and Robert Simard visit the Lachute Protestant cemetery, established in 1801, with cemetery com- mittee president Jeff Gordon.
wealth and religion of the families. There was a time when the less fortunate people had gravestones made of wood,” points out Robert Simard. As a member of the team, the historian adds a new and valuable perspective. His research will help provide links between the burial plots and the pioneer families of the region. The field work has just begun for the duo who will visit communities throughout Argenteuil in order to find as many sites as possible. A preliminary report is expected to be deposited to the MRC in the fall. From this report will come certain recommendations to preserve heritage and to recognize historic places. «With this tool, we could develop policies for the preser- vation of our heritage and decide if places warrant special attention for restorations. We can also alert families about the condi- tion of the plots where their ancestors are buried,» says Lapointe. People who have information that could assist Catherine Lapointe in her research can contact her at 450-562-2474 (extension 2311) or firstname.lastname@example.org .
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