There have been some questions as to what happened to the Cemeteries Act Petitions in May 2011 when the Ontario Legislature was prorogued. The answer is: they died!
But – OGS and The Ontario Historical Society (OHS) received a life line from Jim Brownell, then retiring Member of Provincial Parliament for Stormont, Dundas and South Glengarry. He arranged for us to meet John Gerretsen, then Minister of Business Services – the Ministry in charge of cemeteries registration.
We presented Minister Gerretsen with a list of more than 1500 unregistered cemeteries across the province and had a first hand opportunity to tell the Minister about the lack of protection and high risk of removal for unregistered cemeteries. As a result, we received a letter of undertaking from the Registrar of Cemeteries, Michael D’Mello. The Ministry plans to register unregistered cemeteries! To this end, we have been asked to submit the data county-by-county and to include modern identifying information such as GPS, street addresses, directions, etc.
It isn’t too late.
The joint OGS and OHS Cemetery Registration Committee has been resuscitated and, with assistance from many hardworking branch cemeteries committees, is working to compile the necessary information and send it to the Registrar. To date the data for four counties – Algoma, Brant, Bruce and Carleton – have been forwarded to the Registrar of Cemeteries. Any new information for these counties will be also forwarded as it is discovered.
The OGS Cemetery Locator is being updated as we move along by county, with the goal of making it as complete a record of cemeteries in Ontario as possible.
None of this can happen without the co-operation of our branches and our genealogical and historical friends who have first hand knowledge of their areas. We ask that people check out the Cemetery Locator to see what is on record for your county or region.
We invite anyone with cemetery information, particularly little known or abandoned cemeteries to contact us. This week we learned about three unregistered small family burial grounds from surprising sources.
Please help the OGS/OHS Cemetery Registration Committee remain alive! We look forward to hearing from the friends of cemeteries. We plan to keep you posted as we send the government further information.