The Hillcrest Cemetery Committee has received a donation of $2,000 from the Affinity Credit Union District Council to help with the restoration and upkeeping of the local landmark.
The committee plans on using the money for a new sign.
“The cemetery never had a sign and it was established in 1915, which I think is pretty unfortunate," offered committee leader Pat Billard.
Of course, the sign isn't the only project the committee has set it sights on.
Billard helped establish the volunteer-led organization last spring. She believed there was a real need for such a group - they exist in many other communities - and felt the lack of a committee really hurt the site in a number of ways.
“It was just something we thought we needed to do," she explained. "We needed to do a registry, for example, and we needed to do all sorts of other things to kind of get it up to speed.”
“We are really just getting started," she added. "We have already got quite a bit accomplished, but there is still a lot more to do.”
Among other things, group members have planted trees.
Fourteen trees have already been added to Hillcrest as part of the committee's planting effort, with more to come in the future.
“We're trying to plant trees to help give the cemetery a little bit of definition in the corners,” explained Billard.
The groups also received $2,000 in funding from Southwest Community Futures, which was used to purchase trees and other items.
Trees have been planted at several locations, including amongst the trees stands that have been there for decades - but have suffered wear and tear - in the hope of building that site back up to what it looked like years ago.
"We were also very fortunate to have our local Legion donate bricks from their cenotaph which have been placed around the trees planted this year to hold in the mulch," stated Billard. " I think being the benefactor of the bricks is certainly special, knowing where they came from. The cenotaph is undergoing some repairs so that’s why we were so lucky."
The effort has also benefitted from the help of Brandi Tremblay, who volunteered to fence the trees that have planted and to protect them from the roaming deer who love to chew them.
"People offered fencing materials when we put the call out," said Billard. "We thank them for their generosity regardless if we were able to use their materials or not. People are very willing to help if asked, which is wonderful and we thank them."
Meanwhile, the fence on the north side of the lot was recently replaced with a barb wire fence to keep the animals out from damaging the trees, but Billard would like to eventually see it replaced. The group is eventually hoping to get iron fencing on the north side similar to what is already on the west gate. The committee currently has funding in place to do the east gateway, along with a number of feet of fence. They are waiting for that to be completed.
Another project that the group completed was the mapping of the cemetery, which Billard said was an essential undertaking. The committee ultimately hopes to produce a map that could be available for public use as early as this fall.
“Every gravesite in there that is legible, we now have on a map," she stated. "And once that is finalized, people will be able to go out to the cemetery and actually find the gravesites of their families and loved ones, and their friends."
Billard said people could find gravesight locations if they went to the town office, but very few people were aware of that option.
“If you went to the cemetery to look for a particular gravesite, and you hadn't been to the town office or you were visiting on a weekend, you could walk for hours and never find the soul that you were looking for,” said Billard.
Hillcrest Cemetery is located south of Shaunavon, about a mile south of the water tower.
The new sign will go in at the east entrance of the cemetery.
The committee is funded through the town, and donations to the Town of Shaunavon Hillcrest Cemetery are issued tax receipts from the Town of Shaunavon.
Billard acknowledged the town for their involvement with the project as well as the ongoing upkeep of the cemetery.
For updates be sure to check out the groups facebook page, Shaunavon Hillcrest Cemetery Committee.
Jacob Miller, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shaunavon Standard