Equinox Vigil 2015: Union Cemetery

This was the first time that I attended the Equinox Vigil.  I was primarily motivated because it was a lovely evening for weather.  For the first days, leaves were dancing down the street…a slight wind, warm sun, blue sky dappled in cloud, cool air.  It was a perfect autumn evening.  The fall equinox falls on Wednesday of this coming week.

I thought that I would bring to the non-denominational event, thoughts and prayers for my dearly departed Mom and my family.  I would open up to a reflective and prayerful evening in the Union Cemetery.  The evening opened with a beautiful sky and dance.  This piece, Rico. Michael was a piece created with Calgary’s departed, Michael Green, at heart.

Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 001 Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 004 Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 008Various musicians were present to the event…first and throughout the evening, Simon Fisk and Robin Tufts.  Their music was both haunting and spirit-charged.  Absolutely beautiful.  I stood in the dark at one point and just listened and was moved because of this powerful setting.Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 018 Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 019I wrote Mom’s name on one of the Memorial Lanterns, lanterns that would be processed twice throughout the evening…light in a dark place.  This ritual felt a lot like writing Mom’s name into the Book of Remembrance at my parish church.  Each year, when the Book of Remembrance is placed for all to see,  I pray for her peace and our peace…those left behind and missing her.

Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 020 Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 022Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 023 While I oriented myself to the setting and the event, I missed a couple of events that I had hoped to enjoy…one, the Quickdraw Animation film screen, a tribute to Chris Reimer, ‘Dude, That’s Insane’…

and Kris Demeanor, poet and musician.Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 026Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 028 Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 030At the top of the hill, at the M Horseshoe of the Union Cemetery Rayne-Anne Latchford illuminated lives, by sharing with us, a number of stories of personalities who lived in Calgary, but who passed and are now laying, for the most part, in unmarked graves.  She has a passion for history and for the narratives of people.  She also spoke beautifully about how ‘now’ is the time to share stories with one another and to connect with our families.  It is the stories that will remain.

Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 031 Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 033I could listen to historian, Harold Sanders for hours.  Thank you, for sharing with us history of Calgary’s cemeteries and letting us know just how much we can learn from the people who are resting in our midst.  I hope to have opportunity to return to Union Cemetery in the light of day and make some discoveries on my own. Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 037Being surrounded by music for the evening added to the atmosphere of the sacred.  Thank you to the Calgary Renaissance Singers & Players for their beautiful sound.

Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 039 Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 043Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 047 Kath's Canon, September 19, 2015 051Beautiful installations were sprinkled throughout the Cemetery pathways…this one, the Breath of Life Memorial by Eveline Kolijn.

As it became dark, I settled in with a hot cup of spiced tea and chatted with friends.  It was good to see you Michelena, Billy, Jenn, Bev, Bill, Steve, Don and friends and Dale.  Walking alone, down the hill, the sky appeared lighter than the ancient evergreens that flanked me.  I looked up and gave thanks to my ancestors.  I also prayed for the many students who have passed away since teaching them…for my daughter’s and son’s friends who have passed…for my relations, most recently, my Auntie Margaret and my Uncle Bob.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.
May they rest in peace.


Finding Agnes South

It was time to head back to Belleville, Ontario.  I had enjoyed Mr. Carlin’s art exhibit in Callander and a short, but magical visit in North Bay with my sister.

It was interesting that the Alex Dufresne Gallery is housed in the Callander Bay Heritage Museum.  What a fantastic space.  I remembered from my years living in North Bay, what an attaction the idea of the Dionne quintuplets was for the locals.  To see so many of the archives of the dear girls’ childhood on display in the museum felt a little other-worldly.

P1110667 P1110668 P1110669 P1110670Even as a twelve year old, I felt sad for the spectacle of all of this.  Today, multiple births do not demand as much attention as was endured by the Dionne quintuplets.

I decided to stop off in Powassan as I headed south on HW 11, at least long enough to visit and say my prayers over the resting place of Agnes Haddow (my great aunt) and her husband, Elkanah South.

The young woman, Agnes, is pictured here with her family.  My great grandmother, Mary Eleanor Haddow, later married John Moors.  Agnes was her sister.  My grandfather, John Moors, made trips up from Hamilton, along with other family members, to visit Agnes and her family in Powassan.

The Haddow Family Portrait

The Haddow Family Portrait

Young Agnes

Young Agnes

I know that I have distant cousins who still live in the Powassan area because they have made inquiries about my research. I would dearly love to meet them one day when they are ready.  On this particular day, the sky was foreboding and I wondered if it might rain when I pulled up to a tiny gas station to ask directions to old Union Cemetery.  It was a weekend and the town seemed sleepy.  I knew that I wouldn’t find any help at a cemetery office on a Sunday, but got myself turned in the right direction without any hassles.

Union Cemetery in Powassan

Agnes South Union CemeteryWhat had brought Agnes and Elkanah to settle in the area?

The Powassan Story

(The following article was written by L. F. Robertson, a pioneer resident of Powassan and reprinted from the Golden Anniversary Programme)

One of the most valued treasures of the people of any community is their history. From early days men preserved history so that posterity might have a record of their times. The study of history is like looking back along the highway of time and the men and events mentioned therein are as landmarks placed here and there upon that great highway. Unfortunately, however, some of those landmarks were not preserved and a more particular and definite history could have been recorded if the second and third generations had acquired more knowledge from the first generations. However, we, of this generation, have obtained by research certain interesting facts regarding the settlement and development of our Town of Powassan.

Powassan is an Indian name which means a “bend”. The original settlement was at a bend of the South River. Therefore the name is an appropriate one. This location is known today as the Powassan Chute and is the location of the present hydro plant. Here the Village of Powassan began about the year 1880. A sawmill was built and a grist mill followed. Mill employees erected their dwellings in that section.

Town Expanded

In 1886 the railroad was in operation between Gravenhurst and Nipissing Junction. A second settlement was born in the neighborhood of the railroad station. The railroad was first known as the Northern and Pacific Junction Railway. It was later purchased by the Grand Trunk system and afterwards by the Canadian National Railway, which serves Powassan today. The nucleus of the town site comprised lots 15 and 16 in the 12th concession of the Township of Himsworth. Lot 15 was originally taken up as a grant from the crown by Christopher Armstrong. Lot 16 was a grant to William Faulkner Clark. The 15th side road of the Township of Himsworth was the road allowance reserve between the two lots. This road allowance is the King Street of today, which is Powassan’s main thoroughfare. Christopher Armstrong laid out the town lots in sections of a fifth of an acre each. His plan registered as No. 44. William Faulkner Clark planned the lots in his subdivision into lots of one quarter of an acre each. His plans are registered as numbers 43 and 57.


Community Spirit

The story of William Faulkner Clark depicts the wonderful community and neighborly spirit of Powassan’s early days. His home was known to everyone for miles and was a happy stopping off place for early settlers who came to Powassan to transact business. Unable to return home the same day, they stayed at Mr. Clark’s home which still stands today adjacent to the fair grounds. Before erecting this building, Mr. Clark occupied a log house opposite the fair grounds at the corner of Clark Street and the road to the chute.

Mr. Clark donated the sites for the school and three churches. The site of the first Presbyterian church was at the corner of the fair grounds where the road curves opposite the Holtforster farm. Later this church was moved to the corner of Clark and Edward streets and is now the Masonic Temple. The Anglican Church was on the site of the present dwelling of Mr. M. Putnam. This church was destroyed by fire in 1936. The Catholic Church was built on the property where the present church stands.

The first school in Powassan was S.S. No. 1, known as Maple Hill School. In 1891 the Powassan school, or S.S. No. 8, was built. This was a one-room building. In 1893 it was converted into a two-room school and in 1901, two more rooms were added. Later there were six rooms, four for public and two for continuation students. In 1929 the new continuation school was built and the original two-room frame part of the public school was abandoned. In 1953 the new addition to the public school was completed, thus providing students with modern-day facilities.

While initially I would assume that Elkanah, and other family members, worked in the lumber and milling industries, I learned that he was a Moulder.  What I’ve learned about my family is that none of them were slouches…on either side…and so, I’m certain that this was hard work.

John Moors and SiblingsAgnes Haddow SouthP1110691 P1110692 P1110693 P1110694Of Agnes, Dick Chandler records…

Agnes Haddow was born on 9th August 1877 at Barrow-in-Furness, Lancashire, England, the first daughter of John Haddow and Mary High.

At seventeen, she married 34 year old Elkanah South (a Moulder) on 21st of August, 1894.  (A Moulder made molds, used for casting iron, brass etc, also in potteries and probably other industries.)  Elkanah, also known as Alfred, was born on 28th of February 1860 in Maldon, Essex and migrated to Canada in 1874.  He was a Baptist and she a Presbyterian.  They lived in Powassan, Parry Sound, Ontario and had seven children.  I located several of these and said prayers for them in the Union Cemetery as well, but that’s another story.

A niece of Agnes, Edith Emily Haddow McKeown, remembers that Agnes was said to have had Dropsy and that periodically, she had to have fluid removed.  In years gone by, a person might have been said to have dropsy. Today one would be more descriptive and specify the cause. Thus, the person might have edema due to congestive heart failure.

Edema is often more prominent in the lower legs and feet toward the end of the day as a result of pooling of fluid from the upright position usually maintained during the day. Upon awakening from sleeping, people can have swelling around the eyes referred to as periorbital edema.

The Middle English dropesie came through the Old French hydropsie from the Greek hydrops which in turn came from the Greek hydor meaning water.

Other memories of Edith include that Agnes and two of her daughters (probably the oldest two) visited Mary Eleanor in Hamilton.  She remembered that the girls wore long black stockings, perhaps having something to do with their religion.

Powassan StreetThese post card images of Powassan were captured many years ago. Above, King Street (now Main Street) looking southward in the early 1930s. Below, looking northward, some time befor 1914 and the days of the automobile.

The gas station that I visited was on the left about a third of the way up on this photograph.