Any like me who drive down rural roads regularly, pass many cemeteries, giving them little thought or maybe not even noticing as they flash past.
These quiet green fields of marble and granite, in which generations of farmers, pioneers and townsfolk lie buried, often contain more names than the phone listings of the diminishing towns and villages they sit beside as the population of the dead grows but that of the rural living declines.
What stories lie buried in these places? How many tales, how much knowledge, what narratives of incredible journeys and daunting challenges will never again be told because the tellers are dead and buried?
I’ve been wondering about this ever since getting drawn into the search for the grave of a hitherto unrecognized English and Scottish football star, John Walker, who was the focus of an international hunt.
I was fortunate enough to be able to help in that hunt, running out to the cemetery to find his exact gravesite, which was sitting unmarked by anything but his name and the years he lived on a plain gravestone on the edge of the cemetery at Pilot Mound, Man.
For me, as both a keen Liverpool Football Club fan and a prairie history buff, discovering that somebody once famous and renowned in British football circles was lying there unrecognized on the edge of a modest rural cemetery in Western Canada sent my mind spinning.
Who else is buried out there across Western Canada, lying almost anonymous in the thousands of tiny rural cemeteries that are more evident than many of the towns and villages that produced their occupants but that now no longer exist?
What tales are being forgotten?
Who should be recognized and brought to the attention of the living?
So let me ask: what formerly prominent or important people do you have resting in peace in the cemeteries near your farm or town?
Do the people who farm around you or live in town realize who is buried in the local cemeteries? Are the kids at the local school told about the history of their community and who is buried near them?
What can be done to recognize their presence?
I’d like to hear your thoughts on this. If you have any you’re willing to share, leave a comment on our website when you see this column and the feature posted there.
I’ll be posting about this on our Facebook page and you can leave some thoughts there, too.
Or tweet to me, if you’re of that persuasion. I’m at @EdWhite Markets on the Twitter.
For some, recognizing the notable dead won’t seem important or worthwhile. But if you, like me, feel that those stories are worth preserving and that recognition worth making, let me know what you know and think.