The Revelstoke Cemetery
Land of Thundering Snow is a fully bilingual, unique, comprehensive resource giving the user unprecedented ‘behind the scenes’ access to material not generally accessible to the public. It features the latest information on avalanche science and safety; avalanche control; the anatomy of an avalanche; staying safe in avalanche country; and the ecology of avalanches.
Dr. John Woods, lead researcher and writer of Land of Thundering Snow presents the website at a launch event at Revelstoke Performing Arts Centre, March 4, 2015.
The historic Mountain View Cemetery was first used in the late 1880s. The oldest identifiable headstone dates to 1891, but we know that there were burials here prior to that time. On 25 July 1890, Mrs. Mary Hamilton died in childbirth at the age of 32. Her great-grandson remembers visiting her gravesite as a child but as there was no marker, and no burial records at that time, the site cannot be found.
On 13 November 1891, Louise Beavo died at the age of 32 of rheumatic fever, leaving behind two young sons. At the time of her burial, a description of the cemetery was printed in the Kootenay Star newspaper. It described the cemetery in this way: “Revelstoke’s burial ground is picturesquely situated on an elevated plateau circled by the Columbia River and close under the shadow of one of the dozen mountains which almost overhang the town. It is about half a mile north of the town, and is reached by a winding train through the primitive forest. There are about a dozen graves, some of them fenced in with cedar pickets, notably one large Chinese enclosure. Certainly, this wild romantic spot is a great contrast to the typical village churchyard.” Louise Beavo’s headstone was erected in June of 1893, one-and-a-half years after her death. The stone was made at a marble works in Clinton, Ontario. Unfortunately, the date on the stone is wrong and it reads 1892 instead of 1891.
As a result of the town site dispute between A.S. Farwell and the dominion government, the ownership of the cemetery lands was also in question. As late as 1902, Gilbert Malcolm Sproat, acting as legal council for Mr. Farwell, informed Revelstoke City Council that access to or trespass on Block 39 would not be allowed under any circumstance. Unfortunately, there were already burials in Block 39. This situation was not resolved until after Farwell’s death in 1907.
At one time there were several Chinese citizens buried in Mountain View Cemetery. As part of their belief system, it was once customary for Chinese remains to be disinterred after seven years and returned to China.
Revelstoke’s primary industry for many years was rail transportation and there were many fatalities related to rail traffic.
The Cemetery is divided into sections: The Catholic Cemetery, which opened in 1906, is on the north side of the road, while the rest of the cemetery is Protestant. There are smaller sections for the different lodges. The Masonic Lodge has a specific group of plots within the Protestant section.
A memorial marker for the people buried in the Mount Cartier Cemetery can be found within the Catholic section. Mount Cartier, a predominantly Ukrainian farming community south of Revelstoke, was evacuated in the 1960s prior to the opening of the Hugh Keenleyside Dam at Castlegar which flooded the valley. Residents with family members buried in the cemetery were given the option of removing the burials to the Revelstoke cemetery, or leaving them in Mount Cartier, where the cemetery was closed and covered with cement. Families were not given any compensation to move the graves, and many could not afford to do so. The current marker records only names, with no birth or death dates or other information.
Locating a Plot
For those looking for specific plots, the city has provided a book of interments and a plot map across the road from the maintenance shed. Most of the burials have been recorded and are in the plot book, but a few of the very early ones are missing. The plot book shows the block, row and plot number for each burial. The blocks are all marked, but visitors need to count the rows and plots to find the exact location. There are probably dozens of unmarked graves in the cemetery. Reasons for unmarked graves could be that some graves were never marked due to the cost; some of them could have eroded over time; and some have been vandalized. Some burials were transients, or laborers here with no family, and the graves were left unmarked.
Mountain View Cemetery is the final resting place for many of Revelstoke’s pioneers and these plots hold much of the history of the development of this city and region. Stories of triumph, tragedy and even murder provide a fascinating insight into the lives of some of the extraordinary people buried here.