New online course on cemetery history will go 'beyond the obituary'

·2 min read

For Islanders looking to learn more about their local graveyard or family history, the Clyde River History Committee is offering a new online course called Cemetery Stories.

The course, which is free and self-directed, started in November and will run until August. It will cover topics such as gravestone design, family history, and obituaries.

Vivian Beer, the chair of the committee, told Angela Walker of CBC's Mainstreet P.E.I. that 30 people have already signed up. Participants are from P.E.I. and other Canadian provinces — with some from as far away as California.

"I think they're interested in passing on some interesting stories to the next generation," Beer said.

Everyday folks that have done some really important things for their communities often don't get the credit they deserve — Vivian Beer

"When we think of people that we know, we take them for granted while they're with us. But when they pass, technically their stories can pass, unless somebody writes them down and passes them on."

Giving everyday folks their due

A key part of the course, Beer said, is using questions to unearth the stories of figures from the past, such as what was important to them, and how they contributed to their community.

"We want to go beyond the obituary and we want to bring out the interesting stories about individuals," Beer said.

Based on just the group we have now, we have the potential to create at least 200 biographies. — Vivian Beer

"Oftentimes prominent folks get covered, but the everyday folks that have done some really important things for their communities often don't get the credit they deserve."

Beer said the course has attracted people who were already doing some kind of historical research on their own, and this allows them to come together and collaborate.

The final projects could end up on the Clyde River History Committee's website.

"Based on just the group we have now, we have the potential to create at least 200 biographies, so that's certainly a start."

Islanders interested in taking part can register by visiting the Clyde River History Committee website (see link below).

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