Letters: Heritage written in stone

Dear Editor,

A few days ago, friends of mine from Fort Langley visited the old cemetery with our dogs in tow. 

It was a revelation. I examined old tombstones with names so familiar to present day Langley residents: Muffort (Crescent), Mackie (Street), Michaud (Crescent), Allard (Crescent), and many more.

Underfoot and marked by weathered, old tombstones lay the remains of many of our pioneers long since dead.

My mind swept back over a century as I visualized the solemn occasion of the day they were interred. 

I visualized the sad procession winding its way to the gravesite: a black hearse drawn by black horses and driven by sombre men in top hats. Following them, elegantly dressed in funeral attire, were the sad women and men of the family. 

Similarly dressed, walking abreast, were the mourners who had come to pay homage to their departed friend. 

The clergy had then taken over with words of comfort and the promise of everlasting life, then the departure with the labourers shovelling earth over the coffin, and then the stillness as the moon cast its glow on the newly erected gravestone.

With interest, I noted the names, the dates of birth and death and where the deceased had originated. 

Many came from Scotland, a few from Ireland, England, and Wales.

I learned from an excellent book by Donald E. Waite that the original Fort Langley was a couple of miles west of where it is now situated. Waite’s book is filled with photographs of many of those who lie under their grave markers in the old Fort Langley graveyard: men, women, children; all filled with life and promise in a new land now called Langley. 

It makes one realize how short is the human life span.

Mike Harvey, Langley

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