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"Happiness always looks small when you hold it in your hands, but let it go, and at once you learn how big and precious it is."
Maxim Gorky

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Walking amongst history...

Ever since we moved to Victoria, as a teen, I have always loved certain places 
and go back to them over and over.
Ross Bay Cemetery is one of those.
I especially love it in the fall.
I think because it reminds me of woolen sweaters 
and walking for hours
and then making my way home to something warm and tasty for supper.
It's also home to this big old copper beech tree.
I imagine it was planted around 150 years ago and trees like that, well, they get my vote for staying power.
Especially here in one of the most stormy places on the lower Island.
The cemetery runs along the sea in the neighborhood of Fairfield.
Here in its early days...
They have put up a wall and a bit of a breaker to help the land from eroding.
In 1900, a large part of the cemetery (along with a number of Chinese and Japanese graves) washed away.
Ross Bay has many historical graves.
Some are famous for the people...
Like Emily Carr...
People have taken to leaving her pencils, pens, paint brushes and bit of colored cloth...
The Old Cemeteries Society has erected this stone with one of her poems...
This fellow, Billy Barker, started the gold rush in B.C when he found a nugget the size of a golf ball...
He had a town named after him (Barkerville, of course) and it's a really amazing living museum in the Interior.
This man was the first Black policeman in Victoria...
Some graves are famous just for their looks...
And then some I just found interesting and beautiful...
Some graves are sinking back into the earth as wooden coffins have rotted.
The Old Cemeteries Society has taken to restoring these by removing the earth and structure and back filling with new earth and repairing any broken stones... 
Unfortunately there has been much more damage done by vandals than by the wind and rain.
Broken angels, large crosses knocked down, pieces of monuments stolen.
When I was a kid we were taught, in the good old Roman Catholic guilt way, that if you did any desecrating of graves or such, you would be haunted for the rest of your lives...
Not such a bad idea.
This Stone lady has an interesting story...
 St. Clare is on the plot for the order of Roman Catholic nuns known as "the Poor Clares". They are a cloistered order and their convent stood for many years in Oak Bay.
Centuries ago, when Sister Clare was unable to attend Midnight Mass, 
she experienced the miracle of being able to see the mass in a vision on the blank wall of her room.
Soon after television was developed, she was named the Patron Saint of Television. 
Who thought?!
Maybe next time your kids won't turn off the telly, you can scare them with some story about 
St. Clare...
As Norene and I walked around, we wondered how people choose their loved ones headstones.
Then She came up with the brilliant idea of making her own!
Since she's such a gifted mosaic artist, I'm sure hers would be the life of the party in any cemetery!
We really liked this one that looked as if we were invited to tea or perhaps a glass of wine...
Coming up on Remembrance Day, making note of all the soldiers brought home...
It's places like this where you really get a sense of the fact that everyone has a story.
A life lead. Loved and lost.
Not forgotten.
A peaceful place to spend some time.


Christina said...

how beautiful! i find all the artist brushes to be stunning. i loved the walk. thank you, for sharing.

Jaime said...

Well, hello there!
I came here via Christina, and laughed at your evil eye pictures, and sighed at the bunny (I have a bunny)...and as I scrolled down, I saw a familiar place...I thought to myself, that looks just like Ross Bay cemetery. And as I scrolled down even further I saw the very same picture I took just a few weeks ago of Emily Carr's gravestone surrounded with pens and pencils!

I am living in Victoria as well.
It is so nice to see a close neighbour in the blogging community...I think I will wander around a little here.

So nice to meet you!

Tatersmama said...

What a lovely post! Even if you did focus on that evil eye a little! I'm sure the eye may be evil, but the bird is actually a real sweetheart.... right?

Omigosh, I simply love wandering around old cemeteries, and imagining the lives that the people led. I don't know... somehow it 'grounds' me and reminds me that we're all simply doing the best that we can in the time alloted to us. It's comforting to me really, even though most people think that it's a weird!