Monday, April 13, 2009

New Life for the Dead, or at least their resting places

Time was when every religious congregation in rural Ontario needed a church within buggy range. Result: a lot of small churches across the rural landscape. (I was married in one of them, so I notice.)

Today many of those small country churches, if they survive at all, are available for conversion into summer homes, or country restaurants, or just about anything else. The congregation, what's left of it, commutes forty k or whatever to the big church in the local centre. Well, they do it to shop, and bank, and for medical appointments, and to get the car fixed and see a movie, so why not to pray too. It's the dispersed city theory: rural people have all the services city people have, but they have to go a bit further to access them all.

Meanwhile the cemetary just down the road from the abandoned country church -- often it was originally just a piece of field severed from the farm of a generous parishioner, remains behind.

Unless, that is, someone is moved to convert it into rural development.

Jim Coyle in today's Toronto Star covers the Ontario MPP who wants to safeguard the orphaned cemetaries of Ontario and the historical and cultural treasures they contain. The MPP Jim Brownell has been an activist in the Stormont Dundas Glengarry Historical Association and the Lost Villages Society of Eastern Ontario.

Oh, and Coyle reports his bill got unanimous consent at second reading
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