What a week! On our first day last Thursday, I don’t think any of us expected that we would be so busy and have such an amazing discovery on our hands by the end of week one! Sunny, MacKenzie, Peter, and I have already learned so much and are dreading the end of the summer when we will have to leave! Our first week was very eventful; we experienced 7 interviews from various media outlets, discovered approximately 80 monuments, and researched until we couldn’t.
On Monday, we discovered the old Scottish Cemetery! We discovered that these monuments – some dating back to the 1840s – were moved from St Andrew’s Parish on St James Street in 1955. Many of them are still in amazing shape, and very few are broken. Throughout the week, we continued to uncover the rows of stones, began the preliminary cleaning, and catalogued 60 of the monuments. When we began the project, we had no idea we would discover so many well-preserved monuments, so we have all been very excited!
We were visited by quite a few local historians throughout the week, they were all so helpful, providing us with droves of valuable information and were just as excited as we were about our discovery! One of the documents they provided us with confirmed that we had indeed uncovered the old cemetery from St Andrew’s! Woodland Cemetery was aware that the stones had been moved in 1955, but they were unsure of the current locations of the stones. The document contains several pieces of information that are crucial to the continuation of our work. The document contains the number of monuments moved from St Andrew’s to Woodland in 1955, and a list of the information on every stone, including the person’s name, date of death, and any other inscriptions. We first took some of the names we could read from the gravestones in the ground and compared them with names on the document. We quickly began recognizing the names on the list, as they matched many of the names we read as we peeled grass and dirt from the old monuments.
Last Friday (before our great discovery), we began our research on some of the people buried at Woodland in the Confederation era. Sunny and MacKenzie conducted fruitful research on people such as John Walker and Hiram Lee, as Peter and I combed the London Free Press archives at Western’s D.B. Weldon Library. We looked through the newspapers released in 1867, looking for important names and events taking place in London in order to gain a better understanding of life in London at the time of Confederation. We came across the name of the Mayor of London at the time, Frank Smith, and Alderman John Campbell, who became mayor later in the 1970s.
It has been a very exhausting, but extremely rewarding week. I have learned new skills in conservation and restoration, and I have enhanced my research skills throughout the week as we began to uncover more and more of our discovery. The media exposure was daunting at first, but the support our team has given each other have helped us develop confidence in our public speaking skills, whether it be in front of a camera, microphone, or old-fashioned pen and paper.
Although we have enjoyed our work this week, we will all be happy to have the time to recharge this weekend so that we can get back to it next week! We are so thankful for all of you who read our blog and are following our social media pages. It has been amazing to receive so much support and interest from the local community and look forward to sharing our further discoveries and research with you!