I like visiting cemeteries, at least on those occasions when I am not there in mourning. ‘Twas ever thus, be it the Protestant cemetery two blocks from our church in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Elmwood Cemetery in Perth where several Chaplins (and even an older, related “Chaplain”) are buried and, much more often recently, Scotch Line Cemetery on the opposite side of town and out in the country quite a bit where members of our McGinnis family lie – as do Dad and Craig. I think also of Fairview Lawn in Halifax, final resting place of many of the bodies recovered from the Titanic, which I roamed around in 2005.
It’s interesting to read the names of the dead, their birth and death dates, and whatever other information might have been provided. Sad, too, to see the occasional brick-sized marker, set flat into the ground with simply “baby”, “son” or “daughter” inscribed. Perhaps they were not baptized and, therefore, not named in the eyes of the church (in generations past, at least) or they might have been stillborn. I know, too, that their names do sometimes appear on the main family stone.
In my first or second year of high school my English class was given an assignment to write about whatever was on the different pictures each of us had been given. Mine was a glossy photo of an obviously old cemetery, the shot neither too wide nor too close up. All I remember is that I called it “Balderson”, the name of a tiny little village, population 63 apparently (seems about right), just a short drive – or a good walk – northwest of Perth.
I haven’t looked myself but, according to Google, Balderson doesn’t even have a cemetery – nor a church for that matter. No, Balderson’s claim to fame is the cheese named for it. Cheeses, plural, actually. Alas the factory closed half a generation or so ago, its famous products now made at a much larger agribusiness dairy operation in the village of Winchester about 70 kilometres (approximately 40 miles) across country. That hasn’t kept the cheese out of Balderson, however, with a shop there well stocked. There’s also a sizeable Amish furniture store in the same building and, on a hot Sunday afternoon in the summer, drivers whisking by will see line-ups of people into the parking lot waiting for ice cream – even though none of it is produced on site.
I didn’t keep my writing for too long back then, unfortunately, so I remember very little about my little “composition”, as we called them, other than I think I made up a story about fictitious notable people buried in the cemetery, and my work was very well received by my teacher.
As I have written at other times, cheese-making is part of my mother’s family heritage. Many other country corners in the area had cheese factories because, as Mom explained, they were a way for farmers to put excess milk to use as well as to safely preserve its rich protein better than could be done with milk in the old days. My grandfather made cheese at factories quite nearby Balderson (Fallbrook, Lanark and Prestonvale) and then went on to the Scotch Line Union Factory where Mom spent her infancy in the factory house before the move into Perth.
So not much about Balderson Cemetery, I grant you, but here’s a picture from Perth’s Old Burying Ground and two from Fairview Lawn in Halifax.