William Iserhoff Jr. of South Porcupine and Bill Heavener of Cochrane are already thinking about summer.
The two men are working on a project to give facelifts to forgotten Native burial grounds in the area, starting with the Moose River Cemetery in Canfield Township which they want to see cleaned up and designated as a historical site.
Over the years that cemetery, like many in isolated areas, had become overgrown and neglected. As nature takes its course, trees are beginning to grow in and around the burial sites.
“We must not let this happen for the sake of our loved ones,” Iserhoff said.
“Some of our former residents do not know of this cemetery or its location,” he said about the Native burial grounds located 60 feet above the Moose River shoreline, which was used by a number of denominations.
He has sent out requests throughout Ontario to families who have loved ones buried there, seeking support to give the much-needed facelift.
“We’re trying to get people lined up to help,” Heavener said. The two men hope the cemetery work will begin before the fly season does this spring, “a time for new beginnings,” and will conclude with a sweetgrass ceremony.
Plans include clearing trees that have grown in and around the burial sites, and from the top of the bank down to the shoreline 60 feet wide by 90 feet long.
A cross will be erected at the very edge of the bank, which will be seen from the train.
A chainlink fence will be erected around the cemetery and a small utility sled will be built for garden tools for future upkeep.
Iserhoff also sent a letter to Minister of Natural Resources Chris Hodgson, bringing his attention to the much-needed facelift In 1996, the Ontario government complied with Iserhoff’s request that surface and mining rights would be withdrawn for this site, removing any danger of prospecting, staking out, sale or lease of the area.
Other burial sites the men would like to see fixed up include one in the Lake Lafrance area and one at New Post. They would like to know of other forgotten burial grounds that need to be saved, and would appreciate help from any volunteers.
Iserhoff can be reached at Box 596, South Porcupine, Ont. POL 1HO. Story by Holly Gagnon (reprinted from The Cochrane Times)