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This section will provide interesting information on the traditions and such of cemeteries. If you have anything to offer, please Email Administrator
Ice Candle Festival of Lights a dazzling
Kenora Christmas tradition
By Dan Gauthier
|Despite the frigid temperatures, many gravesites had a
warm glow to them with several ice candles at the Lake of the Woods
Cemetery during the Festival of Lights.
Dan Gauthier photo
It’s so simple it’s brilliant.
The annual Ice Candle Festival of Lights at the Lake of the Woods Cemetery on Christmas Eve is a way for the living to celebrate Christmas with loved ones who have passed away and, for some, this opportunity couldn’t be more timely.
“This is my first Christmas without Sue, so we are here to celebrate Christmas,” said Bill Harrison of his beloved wife who tragically passed away in August of breast cancer. “I think this is fabulous.”
Harrison, a Winnipeg resident with a cottage on Coney Island, came to his Kenora-born wife’s grave site along with his two sons Derek and Brock, as well as extended family members from Kenora. Harrison and family placed about 15 of the estimated 5,000 to 6,000 candles that lit up the cemetery beginning Dec. 24, and the event helped them to cope with their recent loss.
“We just wanted to be here,” said Harrison as he scanned the numerous candles being lit from his wife’s hillside plot. “It’s quite emotional our first Christmas without her.”
Cemetery manager and organizer of the sixth annual festival, Barb Manson, said they sold 1,700 candles this year – for those who choose not to make their own – and are already taking orders for next year. There were about 40 volunteers to place and light the candles, who began at 2 p.m. and finished by 7:30 p.m.
“It’s a unique celebration of someone’s life at Christmas who isn’t here any longer,” said Manson. “It’s a nice way to remember someone over the holidays.”
She said she returned to the cemetery at 11:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve and observed many families having prayers services or singing Christmas carols at their loved one’s grave site which, for her, was a true indication of what Christmas is all about.
“Everybody was saying Merry Christmas to you whether they knew you or not,” said Manson. “It was just that feel-good feeling.”
Manson said the community interest in the event is amazing as it continues to grow each year with more and more candles being lit. She said five or six thousand candles out of 16,000 residents is a “pretty big percentage” as Kenora residents continue to embrace the festival.
“We still retain the title of Ice Candle Capital of Canada – self-proclaimed,” said Manson with a laugh.
Manson noted that two residents on Scramble Avenue, which abuts the west end of the cemetery, got into the spirit of the festival this year. She said one home placed a decorated and lit Christmas tree in the Roman Catholic section of the cemetery, running an electrical extension cord from their home. Another home decorated a tree in their yard facing the cemetery by placing a lit angel in it.
“When you walk through or go by it, you get that true feeling of Christmas,” said Manson of the spectacle of the festival. “It really does something to you.”
This year’s festival included two new programs that allows just about anyone to take part in the Christmas tradition.
A Memory Board was placed in the southeast corner of the cemetery for those who want to honour a lost friend or family member who are not interred there. Manson said about one dozen participants placed the name of the loved one on the memory board placed a lit candle at the base of the board as a memorial.
Manson said with lots of requests received after the festival, the Memory Board is sure to be even bigger next year.”
The second addition this year was the Adopt-A-Grave program that allowed people to place candles on older grave sites that have no one to honour them over the holidays. Manson said they came up with this idea as a way to put some candles in the older section of the cemetery that was never lit up.
“The older section had 30 candles in it where normally it would have none,” said Manson.
Manson said the event has almost become a tourist attraction as many relatives visiting from outside Kenora are so impressed with the event they are asking how to get it started back home.
“They see it and they want to bring it home to their community,” said Manson.
The coordinators of the event are the City of Kenora and Kenora in Bloom. The sponsors included Canadian Tire, who donated 1,000 wax candles to light the ice holders, and Best Way Rentals and Gardewine North who provided refrigerator trailers to make the ice candles.
Gord writes:Haunted graves: "Her name was Janet Ann McLaren & she died in May 1874. The sight is supposed to be haunted & she was reported to have shown up in BC. There is a book apparently."
The cemetery is located on
the Land Forces Base, Meaford or what used to be known as the Meaford Tank
Range. The cemetery is a single grave with rather unusual markings.
The book is entitled ''The Girl with the Blue Eyes" & may now be out of print. I read it & did not think there was much connection with her.
An Article on the Horse-Drawn Hearse for Norsworthy Funeral
(Submitted by Marie)
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