Chelsea, Que vandals should volunteer to get their ya-yas out


by admin on November 25, 2009

The Editor,

What makes a community? A simple answer would be that it’s a combination of people and place. And that’s why each community is unique.

One dimension of every community is its history and heritage. In Chelsea, the Pioneer Cemetery at 587 Hwy 105 is the burial place of Private Richard Rowland Thompson, a war veteran whose heroic exploits more than 100 years ago earned him a unique award, the Queen’s Scarf. Queen Victoria made eight of them, and he is the only Canadian to receive one.

Each Nov. 11, Remembrance Day, the Gatineau Valley Historical Society organizes a community ceremony at the grave of Private Thompson, with troops from the Royal Canadian Regiment and the Canadian Forces Health Group Services at the grave of Private Thompson.

Only three years ago, seven tombstones in this historic cemetery were vandalized. It took two years and community-wide fundraising efforts to obtain the thousands of dollars needed to repair that damage. Now, this year, in late October, vandals damaged the enclosure around Private Thompson’s grave. We were able, with the kind assistance of neighbours, to repair and replace the metal rods back into the posts of the enclosure. On the evening of Nov. 4, the enclosure was damaged again, this time more severely.

Please, help us to preserve this part of our community. It is very likely that the persons who unthinkingly used this historic cemetery as a playground are themselves Chelsea residents. Whoever you are, a more positive approach would be to make your recreational needs known to Chelsea’s Municipal Recreation Department. Or you could volunteer to help the Gatineau Valley Historical Society to maintain the cemetery- we could use help with spring and fall cleanups.

The Pioneer Cemetery is one of the unique and distinctive features of our community. Please, let us all work together to respect the graves of the Chelsea pioneers who are buried in our community, and to preserve our heritage.

Carol Martin

Director, Gatineau Valley Historical Society