Moose River crossing—To the casual observer, the cemetery may look just like a few headstones being overrun by the encroaching wilderness.
To William Iserhoff, however, it’s a vital link to the past and the backbone of a culture.
Iserhoff is one of a group of former residents of the tiny community of Moose River Crossing, located about 40 miles upriver of Moosonee on the Moose River, trying to gather support to give a much-needed facelift to the community’s cemetery.
Over years of neglect as the population of the village gradually moved away, nature has been taking its course and encroaching on the cemetery, with trees and brush growing in among the burial sites.
With enough support, Iserhoff and his partners would like to reclaim the cemetery and maintain it for its significance to the Native community.
“We shouldn’t forget out ancestors,” Iserhoff said. “It’s very important to remember these people; they were the strength of our nation.”
At one time, Moose River Crossing boasted a mill and a June 16,1995 population of about 300 people.
However, when the mill burned down in the 1950s the population began to dwindle.
The last resident moved away just last month, Iserhoff said.
Iserhoff said he doesn’t know how old the cemetery is. The most recent burial there took place in 1963. Some of the people buried there were railway workers who died while they were in the community, and there are many unmarked graves, he said.
“We hope people will realize the importance of this project,” said Iserhoff, who himself left the community about 20 years ago.
“There’s a lot of our burial grounds that have been lost.
“It’s there, we know it’s there, and now we want to preserve it.”
Iserhoff said they hope to raise between $1,500 and $2,000 for the project. Plans call for clearing away trees, placing a main cross at the edge of the riverbank, erecting a chain link fence and building a small utility shed to keep tools for future upkeep.
Reprinted from the Timmins Daily Press.