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Historic cemetery close to capacity

Nov 18 2011

After 143 years, the future of Veterans Cemetery, the burial ground set between the 12th and 17th holes at Gorge Vale Golf Course, is under review.

"The cemetery has been here since 1868 and it's getting close to capacity," said Emile Gallant, manager of cemetery maintenance for Veterans Affairs Canada.

One of the more recent burials was that of Myles Mansell, a bombardier from Victoria, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2006.

Gallant held a meeting in the cemetery's chapel Thursday with representatives from CFB Esquimalt, the Esquimalt Archives and community groups. Topics included the preservation of the 1.1-hectare cemetery's history, and what aspects of it should be promoted and held up to the public.

"We need to decide down the road what's going to happen, it's the main burial ground for most veterans and military organizations," Gallant said.

"We want to find out from local groups what involvement they would like to have."

Several things need to considered along the way, he said. "There's the cultural and historical part, the interments, and also whether the veterans' community thinks there should be another field of honour somewhere else."

The meeting came as the cemetery, a National Historic Site often referred to as God's Acre, nears 2,500 burials. "We want to look at what the possibilities are," said Sherri Robinson, volunteer archivist in Esquimalt.

jwbell@timescolonist.com

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