The evening after our candlelight graveyard tour, E.g. and I decided to visit Fort Anne again. It was a calm, cloudless evening. With the fort and its adjacent Garrison Cemetery practically across the street from our B&B, we stepped back to our room after supper for jackets and cameras. I pocketed the key and adjusted the camera bag on my belt.
“Wait for me, E.g.!”
There it is.
Much of the graveyard above ground is simply lawn, because before the 1700s, Nova Scotian graves were marked with biodegradable wooden crosses. There are no early French-Canadian tombstones here; the earliest one is that of an Anglo woman from 1720, ten years after the English took the Fort from the French and refused to return it.
In those early times, headstones were carved by Bostonians. Maybe the Puritan influence still hung heavy, because the adornment was usually a death’s head with wings. Here are two examples:
Worthy of gracing any Harley, n’est-ce pas?
As time went on, some mourners preferred kinder, gentler imagery, especially if the lyething body was that of a child.
I think the second head looks less like a flower and more like a lion.
I wish now I’d written down the history of headstone trends when our tour guide, Alan Melanson, enumerated them. He spoke of the weeping willows, the fingers pointing skyward, the seraphim and cherubim, and other symbols and their eras of favour.
You’re going to have to be satisfied with the knowledge that these are old tombstones from Canada’s earliest English graveyard. Please come and wander the grounds with me. I could use a little company…
Pointing forefinger. Sometimes they pointed to a word in a book, as perhaps this one is. “See? I told you it’s spelled with a u!”
Handclasp. Someone cared.
Victorian “weeper” or mourning band. Someone was rich.
Copperplate italics praising a mother. Someone was rich and didn’t write home enough.
A mason — whether by trade or pinky ring, I don’t know.
Weeping willow. ‘Nuff said.
Seraph. “Aw, pipe down already. That bugling is enough to wake the dead!”
Finally, it was too dark to stay any longer. E.g. passed through the turnstile, patting her pocket, reassuring herself that the key was in it. She gave one final, wistful glance at the graveyard, and headed for the B&B.
“Wait for me, E.g.! E.g.? Hello, E.g. …”