An Activity that Quickly Became Overwhelming

I sometimes just sit back with total amazement at what can be discovered when you’re looking for one thing and finding another.

Over the weekend, I attended my Grade 13 High School Reunion.  It was actually quite amazing that the organizers had managed to track us all down.  But, with a yearbook in hand, and connections to be made the game was on and everyone (or close to everyone) was hunted down and invited.  Of course, there were many of our classmates who have moved far and wide and heading back to a Golf Course in Goderich Township was out of the question.  However, many made holiday travel arrangements just to get there, including one from Vancouver.  It was quite impressive – the day was great – the conversations continued like we’d never moved away from each other – and the outdoor BBQ was awesome.  Even a passing shower only distracted attentions for a moment.

This is a picture of the gang on the 9th green.  Three of our teacher coaches also showed up for the event.

Sadly, in a corner, there were two lone flowers.  Two of our classmates were unable to attend because they had passed away.  Over the evening, I think that most people managed to pass by the table and see the names and pay respects.  Nobody truly knew or shared with me the circumstances of their passing.

I thought that I would see if I could do a little discovery as I had dealings with both while at school but time had passed since then and we truly had lost contact.  I must admit that my heart was really not in it; it seemed morbid.  Thankfully, I got distracted in the process.  The distraction turned out to be fascinating.

Let me preface this by saying that Geneology is not my forte and yet now I’m intrigued.

My trek though took me to Canada’s Gen Web’s Cemetery Project.

Around since 2004, the project appears to be trying to document every cemetery in the country.  The results are placed into a searchable database, organized by province / county / municipality.  Once you find the cemetery, the project identifies all the grave sites with markers.  Many markers have no deceased date and they’re marked appropriately.

In my case, I made the assumption that our classmates would have been buried in Huron County.

There were a number of cemeteries in Huron County so I did take a peek at Clinton cemetery and Baird’s cemetery without success.   There could be all kinds of reasons for a lack of success.  I thought that perhaps I needed to verified that the browsing and searching features are functional and so did some searching for known gravesites and did find them easily.  Who knows why I wasn’t successful with the original search.  So many reasons come to mind.

The next thing really blew me away.  Once you find a name, clicking a name opens a new window in your browser with a photo of the headstone.  In addition to readable and easily recognizable headstones, from the older section of the cemetery, you’ll find unreadable stones that haven’t withstood the effects of weather.

My first thought – ever the nerd – was that there’s a need for privacy settings after your passing…

I am totally amazed at the scope and effort of this particular project.  I spent much time just “wandering around” reading headstones from leaders in my community from my childhood.  I started to get a real sense as to why those who are involved in history and geneology are so immersed in their projects.

I was in for another experience on the way home.

We decided to take Highway 21 home which took us through Dresden.  It’s always a sombering side trip to go by Josiah Henson‘s Uncle Tom’s Cabin History Site.  What I hadn’t noticed before was the site also contains the Henson Family Cemetery.  As should now be expected, this cemetery is also documented by Gen Web.

I just had to take a deep breath.  The whole experience had quickly become one of divergent research and discovery.  The possibilities of using this is overwhelming.  It’s not always an easy thing to do but this could be an efficient way of building your family tree or locating community leaders from time gone by.

The site appears to be in the middle of transferring itself to bigger things.  You might have to bounce from the old site to the new site depending upon the cemetery and its status in the transfer process.  I think that if you do get immersed in this, you won’t mind the inconvenience for now.  Information on the site indicates that the full transfer should be complete by the end of the year.

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