Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Here is a great book of interest to anyone researching the Cowichan Valley area of British Columbia.
TALES the TOMBSTONES TELL: A Walking Guide to Cemeteries in the Cowichan Valley

by T.W. Paterson

ISBN 978-0-921271-00-0
(With easy to follow directions; diagrams; historic & current photographs.)

Soldier, sailor, tinker, tailor, the famous and the infamous–you’ll find them all, and more, in Cowichan Valley cemeteries. Most, happily, achieved old age and died of natural causes. But it was a hard and dangerous life on the Vancouver Island frontier and logging, hunting and farming accidents claimed many. Some fell victim to illnesses and other medical issues that, today, are treatable, even preventable, some chose to end their own lives, and some succumbed to their own or others’ negligence or malevolence. All of them have stories to tell.

Join well-known historian T.W. Paterson as he guides you to some of the most outstanding graves and monuments in the Cowichan Valley’s 16 public/church cemeteries.

Several Cowichan churches, in fact, now invite respectful visitors to wander among the headstones, many of which are sculpted works of art, to learn more about the men and women (sometimes their children) who pioneered this land.

Headstones, after all, are for the living. They’re meant to be read! How many times have you wanted to know more about the persons whose final resting places are so briefly, even teasingly, identified in granite, marble or bronze?

In Tales the Tombstones Tell, the author draws upon more than 30 years of research to tell you of some of the most colourful, most intriguing and most tragic of the several thousands who take their eternal rest from Shawnigan to Chemainus.

You’ll meet many of these fascinating pioneers in Tales the Tombstones Tell. 9x6x270pp paperback 70 colour plates $24.95

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thank You Note on Remembrance Day

Cliff, one of our most active volunteers, received this note the other day..........

I do not know who is but I am grateful that this photo of my father's gravestone is online for me to find. I did not know where he was buried.  I live abroad. Discovered it today....on Armistice Day (Remembrance Day).  He is where he belongs, with others who went to war, got shaped by war or killed by war.
What would he have been like had he never gone to war...
Who are you?

Cliff responded to this email with more detailed info about her father's gravestone.
It is so wonderful to receive acknowledgement for one's hard work.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Thank You Note & Remembering!

One of our hard-working volunteer submitters, Amy, just received this kind note -

Dear Amy,
I want to thank you for posting a photograph of the grave of 1579222 L.A.C.Ernest Hartland.
I am still not sure how I arrived at the website but finding this photograph brought back many memories.

In 1942 my sister and I were evacuees in Tenbury Wells , Worcestershire, England. We were from Birmingham Warwickshire. My sister had been there since 1939 and I joined her in 1941.
Ernie was the only son of two of the most wonderful people we have ever known. He was at University and  although I probably met him only a couple of times, I still have his photograph. His death was a terrible blow to “Aunty” and Uncle” especially as he was still in training. It seemed to them that it was such a waste. 

I am 78 now and I can still remember the agony they felt, the postman called while my sister and I were the only ones at home and even then we understood the meaning of the small envelope he put into my sister’s hand.

Both his parents have died many years ago but my sister and I will never forget any of them.

Thank you.
R*** C*****
Sydney Australia

A great note to receive and especially touching as Remembrance Day approaches.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Family Tree Responses

One of our family tree supporters reported...........

Here is the most recent version of our tree.  I've had four contacts through your site from people saying this was the only place they had seen their family mentioned - so that was nice.


Wonderful to see someone finding new contacts through our pages.

Family Tree Success

I just received this email from Sandra -

My family tree on has helped me out again. The St. Catharines Rowing Club did research on the history of the club to find the descendants of previous presidents. They found my greatgrandfather's name in my tree and were able to contact me through my email address. Because of that tree our family has been invited to the christening of a new boat next year. I have had more contacts since I put my tree on CH than I have had through years of posting trees on other websites.

It is GREAT to learn of Sandra's success. We wish her continued Good Luck,


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Half Million Records !

Thanks to everyone's hard work, now has over 500,000 records available to researchers around the world.

It may interest you to know that about one thousand users visit the site every day. In the last month alone, visitors have come from 79 countries around the world.

Congratulations to every volunteer in the project. We thank you for your support.

Best regards
Jim McKane

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Thank You Note

Another of our wonderful volunteers, Amy, just received this note....

I just wanted to THANK YOU very much for the headstones image of my great uncle James Henry McCalpin and his daughter Mildred A Parker McCalpin in the Killarney Cemetery.

I had NO idea they were available and I just happened to see at the website this morning and thought I'd just try a few names - I got a really wonderful surprise thanks to your work doing this - it helps "complete" the story and the family tree that much better. Now I gotta see if I can find his wife!................

THANKS AGAIN - very much appreciated!

R. B.

A nice note for a dedicated volunteer in our project.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Thank You Notes

We continue to receive a large number of thank you notes as our volunteers are doing such a wonderful job in our project. Eric in BC just received..........

I just wanted to say thank you...u have photographed most of my familys 
headstones in Mountain View Cemetery..great is truly appreciated.

Take care. 
A. H.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Thank You Note

Volunteer Sandra received this nice thank you note....

Hello Sandra, thanks so much, I just found the photo of my grandparents headstone -  John Archibald and Hazel Belle Robertson - buried in Springcreek Cemetery, Mississauga,
this is amazing, thanks !
K. D. 

It is always nice to receive recognition for your efforts.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Move to New Server Completed !

The move to the new server is fully completed!

It appears that we don't even have any bugs!?! Well, let's hope there are no surprises in the future.

The new server is much faster and will not have limitations on our future growth and development.

A special THANK YOU to all of our Coordinators and Submitters for their thoughtful patience during this process.

Jim McKane
President & Webmaster

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Buck and Fawns in Cemetery !

Well, you never know what you will find or see when "graving!  Angie, a volunteer, in London, Ontario came across a buck, doe and two fawns while taking photos in Woodland Cemetery, London. She was unable to get a shot of the doe who was watching her intently from a distance.

Great photography, Angie!

PS - I added them to the website as well.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Visitors from 170 Countries

Since our inception, 1 July 2009, we have had visitors from 170 countries around the world. Naturally, Canada and the USA make up the bulk of our visitors. However, it is reassuring to know that we are so widely used and appreciated.

Once again, we recognize that none of this would be possible without our stalwart, hard-working volunteers!

Thanks again everyone for your continued support,
Jim McKane

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Scheduled Downtime

Hello Everyone

Your hard work and that of our hundreds of other submitters has created a huge overload on our current servers. This is a WONDERFUL problem to have as it only points out the HUGE success of our project.

However, this means that we must move the site to a new ISP with faster, larger servers. This is a monumental task which we have been planning and testing for over four weeks now. Sometime in the next few weeks, the move will take place.  

During that time, will be completely offline. We expect will take between 36 and 72 hours to complete.

In the meantime, you may continue to submit photos as usual. The downtime will ensure that nothing gets lost in the transition!

Thanks again for your support, hard work and understanding,

Jim McKane
President & Webmaster

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

"National Humiliation Day"

By Ted Yao (Copyright 2012)
Ted Yao lives in Toronto and is one of over a hundred descendants of Chong Hooie (Expand-Tin-Bright), 1862 -1937 and Chong Fong Shee (Expand Née Fong), 1886 – 1957.
July 1, 1923 has a bitter resonance for Chinese Canadian descendants of head tax payers. On that day the door shut for Chinese immigration, not to reopen until 1947, which incidentally is the year I was born. Prior to this Dominion Day, Chinese could immigrate on payment of a $500 head tax, intended as a nearly insurmountable barrier. Chinese Canadian thriftiness made even this onerous payment an “opportunity” that most Canadians would not stomach.
Chong Hooie's Headstone
So, part of our family Canada Day celebrations include a visit to Mount Pleasant Cemetery, where my grandfather Chong is buried, along with his wife, a head tax payer. My mother called Canada Day “National Humiliation Day”, a term that shocked me until I learned late in life that it was a phrase in general use amongst other Chinese Canadians. It has taken me a long time to celebrate our differences as Canadians, as well as what we have in common.
On one occasion, my cousin, who studied Chinese, remarked that there were about a hundred markers near my grandfather Chong’s grave, almost all men. They made me think about “Cheffie”, a gaunt, unilingual Chinese cook working at my uncle’s restaurant in Woodstock Ontario, in the fifties. Cheffie would work all day as a short order cook, and then retire to this room over the restaurant. He seemed to have no family or life other than work.
I decided to translate the names of these Chinese men at the cemetery and post them on the Canadian Headstones Project, a repository of all gravestones in Canada. This is despite the fact that I neither read nor write any Chinese dialect, let alone the Toisonese variant most early immigrants spoke. I had hoped to confirm these markers as an indictment against Chinese exclusion, which condemned men like Cheffie to a life of lonely bachelorhood and also to serve as recognition of their pioneering spirit, which I feared no-one else would remember.
After a lot of work, I have to say that I have a lot more questions than answers. I still don’t know how these early Chinese managed to get the English speaking stone masons to carve the words in correct Chinese. I also marvel at the uniformity of the inscriptions. All list the person’s three-word name, followed by the words “his grave”. On the right is the person’s birth place and on the left is the date of death. Nationalists would even use the Chinese dating system, which begins with the founding of the Republic of China in 1911.
The names themselves gave hints of a richness that their English names can’t convey. For example, Chan Laap Ngon’s name meant “Make Peace Chan”. “Sit Gaam Sui” was Gold Omen Sit, (“Sit” being a feudal state). At first I ignored the birthplaces, but one day I found mourners at a gravesite, one lighting incense, and the others, looking bored, checking their cell phones. I asked them to tell me about the person buried there and was told with some embarrassment that they had no idea, but he was from the same village as their father, so this was an act of community solidarity. So the village becomes an important part of identity and indeed I found places such as Windy Bay Village and Prosper Trade Neighbourhood, inscriptions that reach out to others from the same village.
The five or six women buried here also had stories I would have loved to know. There was 4 month old Carey Wong, buried in 1963 alongside a man with the same name, age 65, who was interred there six years earlier. At Plot 2767 is Moon Kwong Lai who died in 1956 at age 21. She must have been one of the first immigrants after the Exclusion Act was repealed. There are three others, who lived longer, including my grandmother, who are referred to in the classical Chinese way, completely submerged into the identity of their husbands. If Olivia Chow were buried here, she would be referred to as “Wife of Jack Layton, from the Chow family”. The name “Olivia”, used by family and friends, would not even be written down.
I also found at least one instance where a Toronto doctor with an Anglo name bought and paid for the deceased’s plot for a 65 year old patient or friend. It suggests that even in those days in this compassionate country, we were able to sometimes transcend barriers of race and language. In the end I was not able to confirm or refute my hypothesis that those markers belonged to mostly lonely bachelors. Some plainly had descendants: “In loving memory of our grandfather”; for others, records suggest that they had relatives, some from places like Port Arthur or Bowmanville. Perhaps they lived in Port Arthur with a family, but wished to be buried in Toronto, along with Chinese speaking compatriots.
But one thing was certain; even though these men lived all their adult lives in Canada, and were buried in a cemetery of “foreigners”, they still felt compelled to centre their identities on a faraway country. By commemorating their lives in Chinese they used a language that ironically their descendants would not understand. Those Chinese who came to Canada after 1947, a different and more educated diaspora, would easily be able to read both English and Chinese, but would be indifferent to those early immigrants, who traced a path from feudal China to these once unwelcoming shores. By recording their markers I have, in a small way honoured them and ask my fellow Canadians that we remember not only the opportunities our rich land has given us, but those opportunities for a full family life that it has taken away.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Donation Thank You Note

We recently received a very generous donation from a user. When we sent out a special thank you to the user, we received this note in reply............

You are welcome Jim and thank you for the note.  I am Ed's wife and have spent the last several months researching his dad's family history in Canada.  His dad's brother is still living in Drummondville, Quebec - he used to be a pro Hockey Player in the 1950's & 1960's.  Since Canada kept such good records, I was able to get back to the 12th generation in one line of ancestors.  Your website was helpful for me and I wanted to contribute to help you along with such a tremendous project so thank you again Jim and have a wonderful week.
v/r S....

It is very gratifying to receive accolades such as this along with the financial contribution which will be well-used towards the growth and improvement of our project.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Thank You Note

One of our very active volunteers, Angie, just received this nice accolade.

I am very interested in the quality photos you have uploaded to the Canadian headstones site - nice work! I am the Chair of the Friends of Brick Street Cemetery.  We work to restore and maintain the cemetery and do historical research on those buried there. If you have any questions about the stones, inscriptions, family connections, etc. please do not hesitate to contact me.


D.... H...
Chair, Friends of Brick Street Cemetery 

Great work, Angie!


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

New Search Feature

Our volunteer programmer, Bob, has done it again!

We now have the ability to search two fields of a record at once! You can search for a Surname and a First Name; a Cemetery and a Surname; there are many possible combinations to narrow your search patterns.

Thanks so much, Bob, for all your efforts on our behalf.

Jim McKane

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Thank You Note

Our faithful volunteer, Eric, just received this nice note...........

Thank You so much for the photo of this headstone. She was the 
wife of my grandfathers brother. Although I never knew either 
one of them it is great to be able to add to my family 
history pedigree chart.

Regards B..... Si..... Salt lake City Utah 
Great to see Eric recognized for his hard work. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

New, Larger Photos

Well, at long last, I believe we have our larger photo software working properly!

As many of you know, we were having problems where photos the surname containing accented characters were not showing. We believe the fix just installed this morning has repaired all the lost photos!

Should you find any problems, please mail me immediately.

Thanks for your patience and support.

Best regards
Jim McKane

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Thank You Note

Our volunteer submitter, Gord D., just received this kind response to some of his postings.........

Hi Gord -

Just wanted to drop you a line and say thanks for contributing the photo of my G-G Grandparents grave (see attached), William and Susan ARMSTRONG. 
The write up describes the photo as...[transcript of headstone omitted]

You also posted a photo of my G-G-G Grandparents: Thomas ARMSTRONG and Mary REID (attached), with this description...[transcript of headstone omitted]
If I ever find myself in the Carp area I will be sure to visit this cemetery.  Until then, thanks again for taking the time to post these. It is much appreciated!
P.... T...
Vancouver, BC

We ARE "making a difference" !

Monday, May 7, 2012

400,000 Another Record

Thanks so our rapidly growing list of volunteers,
we have reached another milestone -

400,000 records.

Congratulations Everyone!

Friday, May 4, 2012

A Volunteer who Loves Our Project !

This is part of an email received today. We are so glad to find our project being enjoyed by our volunteers.

I am having an absolute blast since I found your great site! I LOVE old cemeteries as well as photography so I have a chance to do two things I really enjoy!
Ciao for now!
A.... in London, ON

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Coordinators Named Volunteers of the Year !

Eric Marshall and his wife Dorothy were winners of the Volunteer of the Year Award at the annual Duncan [British Columbia] Chamber of Commerce Black Tie Awards banquet held last Saturday. Eric and Dorothy have been stalwart coordinators and submitters in BC from the start of

We salute them for Giving Back to their community!

[Eric is the gentleman in the back row with the bow tie. Dorothy is in front of him in the gold top]

[This article reproduced with Permission of the Cowichan News Leader]


 Black Tie salutes best in Cowichan business

Presenting this year's Black Tie award-winners.
Andrew Leong
This year's winners were:
Home-based business: Andrew Shepherd, Vancouver Island Salt Company
Green business: Aimee Bartesko, skin n.v.
Young entrepreneur: Marcus Woernle, BioFlame Briquettes
Customer service: Mike McCluskey, Thermo Proof Windows
Art in business: Sue Coleman, Coleman and Coleman Enterprises
Volunteer of the year: Dorothy and Eric Marshall, Cowichan Valley Naturalists Society
Business achievement: Chad Conrad, Mr; Mike's Steakhouse and Bar
Lifetime achievement award: Ken McKinnon, Pacific Building Systems

Monday, April 30, 2012

Yet Another Thank You Note

An Ontario volunteer, Wayne, has taken shots of many tiny, and hard-to-locate cemeteries. One of his many thank you notes ...........

Hi, I just wanted to thank you for working on the headstone project.  Saturday i found the graves of my g-g-g grandparents thanks to your pictures. Since then i have been able to find the rest of their family beyond just my g-g-grandmother.  I'm sure it is a daunting task, so thank you. And the funny thing is that you had just taken the pictures last Wednesday.  I am in the US, so it would not have been an option to visit.  Thanks!


Great work, Wayne! 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Thank You Note

Coordinator Eric just received this nice note -

Just wanted to take a moment to thank-you for your time put in
to photograph all of these gravestones. And for the extra
information concerning the internees.

Thanks again,
R.. D....
Isn't it great to be appreciated?

Monday, April 9, 2012 In The Press

A new article just published in Internet Genealogy April/May 2012 issue.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Important New Software Update

Hello Everyone -

First, on behalf of the Board, I would like to thank everyone of you for your dedication and support to Without your hard work, would not be the top-quality resource it has become.

Now, the GOOD NEWS !!!

After months of testing and re-writing, we have implemented new functions in our software which will archive all photos from this date forward in much higher quality. This innovation will make the headstones photos much easier to read on the screen as well as creating a printer-friendly version of higher resolution.

Therefore, effective immediately, please do not re-size your images smaller than 900 pixels X 900 pixels.

When a volunteer is submitting photos, the user will be able to Click on the Image below the name index to view a larger version of the photo in a separate window. This will make it easier to read the headstone for indexing and transcribing.

As a Coordinator, you will likewise be able to Click on the Image below the name index to view a larger version of the photo in a separate window. This will make it easier to read the headstone for the approval process.

We would ask you to pass this email on to as many active submitters as you can so that they are aware of these changes. In the near future, the Help & FAQ page will be re-written to include this information.

Thanks again for your support,

Jim McKane

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Thanks You Note

Eric, our stalwart coordinator in BC just received this little note -

Found my great grandmothers tombstone it truly made my day. 
I live in Ontario and never thought I would ever see it. 
Many many thanks. Doreen
It is always nice to receive a thanks for your hard work. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Family Tree Success !

This email was received from D. M. who placed a family tree for himself and his wife on our site -

Since unloading our respective family trees to Canadian Headstones in 2011, my wife and I have both had contact from cousins we didn't previously know existed. In all cases, the information provided by and given to these cousins has deepened the family knowledge of all concerned.  Contact has come from Canada, England, Australia and the United States.Canadian Headstones is an excellent resource, and we are so pleased to see the recent affiliation with Ancestry.

It is very gratifying to learn that our website is assisting our supporters in the genealogy quest. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Cowichan Valley Citizen Article

The Cowichan Valley Citizen, 17 Feb 2012, ran an excellent article about written by Mr. Tom Paterson. We wish to thank both the Citizen and Mr. Paterson for their great publicity of our project.

You can read it at in the Press

Thanks to Eric Marshall for pointing the article out to me.

PS - if you have any contacts in the press, please press them for coverage of our project.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Man Overboard!!

This article has absolutely nothing to do with Canadian genealogy but I thought it was very interesting!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Thank You Note

Our ever-producing submitter, Cliff, just received this note...........

Thank you so much for your efforts in photographing these Headstones. I was to happy to find a photograph after so many years. I will be passing this along to my many cousins. They will be most appreciative to finally see the HS[headstone] of our Great Grandparents
K.. A.. B..

It is always nice to know that your efforts are being appreciated.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Thank You Note

Our stalwart volunteer, Eric, just received this note........

Hello:  I just found this wonderful site and found some of my family.  I would like to inquire as to where you received the information that is written at the bottom of the page that shows the picture of the headstone for N..... A..... 
Also the information at the bottom of the page for Ida A..... E.... R.....
I look forward to your reply.  

Thank you for your assistance N.... S.....

Eric replied with the info and received another accolade!

GREAT work, Eric!!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Thank You Note

Evelyn, one of our many stalwart volunteers, received this note recently..........

I was linked to a photo taken by you of a headstone in Friends+/Quaker, Mill St., Ajax (prev. Pickering) (now Durham Co.) Cemetery while working on my family tree at It is for George Valentine.
It gave me goose bumps to see a photograph of a distant relative's headstone appear suddenly on my screen.
My great grandmother Elizabeth Valentine was born in 1849 in Reach Township, married John Hayes and moved with their family to Michigan in the 1870's. She came from a large family, most of whom were Quakers. You can probably imagine how interesting it is to find a Quaker Cemetery!
May I have your permission to use this photo in my online tree at I would credit you for the photo if you like but would need your name. Thank you for taking the photo and your consideration. That's the wonder of the internet and all the good people like you taking time to take photos, make notes and post online.

It is really uplifting to learn how much help we are being to our fellow genealogists from far away.

Notes such as this make it all worthwhile and help keep our noses to the grindstone!!