The Kelowna Memorial Park Cemetery ���Image: contributed

The Kelowna Memorial Park Cemetery ���Image: contributed

FEATURE FRIDAY: Preserving Kelowna’s history, one tombstone at a time

The Kelowna Museum Society to host a workshop to clean headstones

Preserving the final resting places of Kelowna’s dead is an important part of keeping the city’s history alive.

“The pioneer section of the cemetery has so many people of significance that are buried there,” Jennifer Garner, education and programming co-ordinator of Kelowna Museums said.

“There is a Chinese and Japanese section and in some cases those burial sites are the only place where that person is even recorded as ever being here is in that cemetery.”

According to Garner the cemetery is one of the biggest historical sites of the Okanagan because of who is actually buried there. Some of the stones have become overgrown with Oregon grape and moss has attached itself to the tombstones. Some have become cracked due to weather and water has seeped inside.

That’s the impetus for a unique event where attendees will learn about how to safely clean cemetery headstones. Tools will be provided and participants will work in teams to clean up a few historic tombstones in the pioneer section of Kelowna’s Memorial Park Cemetery.

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The aim is to not only clean up the final resting places of Kelowna’s settlers but to also create a sense of community and allow people to see the cemetery as more than a spooky place where ghost stories come alive; but as a park, where residents can respectfully spend their days.

Two notable names who eternally reside in the pioneer section are Bernard Lequime, who laid out the townsite of Kelowna in 1892. He has been called the “Father of Kelowna” and has Bernard Avenue named after him.

Arthur Booth Knox whom Knox Mountain is named after, also resides there.

Local historian Bob Hayes will be telling participants about the parts of Kelowna’s history they will be preserving during the workshop. He also has the honour of choosing the tombstones to be cleaned up during the workshop.

“It keeps their memory alive,” Hayes said. “It (the cemetery) represents so many different people and so many lives.”

Attendees are asked to wear suitable clothing for working outside, and to meet at the Memorial Park Cemetery on June 2. To reserve your spot please contact Jen to reserve your spot, call 250-868-4836 or e-mail education@kelownamuseums.ca

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