Sixty pioneer headstones from Gladstone Baptist Cemetery in the Municipality of Thames Centre broken up and tossed in the dump
Pioneer gravestones dumped at landfill, LFP, Sat. Dec. 8, 2007
RESIDENTS in the Municipality of Thames Centre (Dorchester, Nilestown area east of London) are angry that their municipal government have smashed all of the pioneer headstones in Gladstone Baptist Cemetery and trucked the debris off to the landfill site.
Greg Borduas, CAO of Thames Centre, says it was safety concerns over the condition of the old pioneer tombstones that prompted the action.
A sheepish-looking Bourdas further defended the move by saying that it was "approved by the [five-member] municipal council and advertised in the newspaper."
But area residents say the little-known move by the municipality with its administrative offices in Dorchester, Ontario, shows disrespect for the pioneers of the area that cleared the land and built the local economy from the ground up in the 1800s.
They say that the headstones are historical artifacts containing geneological information such as family members, birth dates and dates of death that are irreplaceable.
As a result, several residents are combing through the piles of debris at the dump to retrieve the headstones.
CAO Borduas says that Thames Centre plans to erect a memorial in the Gladstone Baptist Cemetery with the names of the deceased pioneers inscribed on the memorial.
According to the A-Channel on Friday, the provincial registrar of Ontario's cemeteries will be investigating this matter to see if the municipality of Thames Centre followed proper procedures pursuant to the Cemetery Act and its Regulations when it disposed of the pioneer headstones.