Red Deer historian Michael Dawe gave a tour this past weekend of Red Deer’s oldest cemetery.
Thirty-two people gathered at the location where many of Red Deer’s founding families are buried, including Rev. Leonard Gaetz.
Dawe believes that “One of the best ways to learn about your community is to come to the cemetery. It’s a unique way to learn about the history.”
The Red Deer & District Archives, where Dawe works, tries to arrange three tours per year, as they are always very popular.
“Many of the people who literally built this community have made this their final resting place,” said Dawe. “It’s very important to a community and it is a place of remembrance and reverence.”
While the cemetery is now classified as full, many people including Dawe have already reserved their places among Red Deer’s history and beside their families in this historic spot.
“We are trying to convey another aspect of Red Deer’s history by standing in front of the final resting place of a particular person,” said Dawe. “They may have been fairly famous or they may just be a regular member of the community, but they all played their roles in making the City what it is today.”
The Red Deer Cemetery is well-known for its section for the Gaetz family, as well as for the field of honour where those lost in the Second World War are buried.
Beside the field of honour is a plot where those lost in the great 1918 flu epidemic rest. “It’s interesting because more people from Red Deer died from the flu in six weeks than died in the war.”
While many believe that the Red Deer Cemetery is the first, Dawe stated during the tour that Red Deer’s first cemetery, The Village Cemetery, lies under the offices of the Old Brewery building where the Red Deer Express office and The Vat are on the corner of 43 St. and Taylor Dr.
“When the engineers built Taylor Dr. the province of Alberta told them that they had no records of a cemetery being there so they paved over it.”