History must not be forgotten or rewritten on the Pioneer Cemetery in Martindale, Quebec

“They will be remembered as long as love and music last”

By CATHOLINE BUTLER

In a small rural community in Martindale, Quebec (about 40 minutes north of Ottawa), a magnificent limestone Celtic cross stands guard over a triple cenotaph. The names of a number of survivors of Ireland’s Great Famine are engraved front and back on the memorial.

CATHOLINE BUTLER of The Celtic Connection stands beside the 12-foot Celtic cross at Martindale Pioneer Cemetery in western Quebec. She was instrumental in erecting this monument and cross in memory of the survivors of the Irish Famine.

CATHOLINE BUTLER of The Celtic Connection stands beside the 12-foot Celtic cross at Martindale Pioneer Cemetery in western Quebec. She was instrumental in erecting this monument and cross in memory of the survivors of the Irish Famine.

DECLAN KELLY, the former Irish Ambassador to Canada, is shown above on his visit to the Martindale Pioneer Cemetery in May 2009.

DECLAN KELLY, the former Irish Ambassador to Canada, is shown above on his visit to the Martindale Pioneer Cemetery in May 2009.

The cross is inscribed in Irish, English and French with these words: “May the light of heaven shine on the souls of the Gaels who left Ireland in the years of the Great Famine to find eternal rest in this soil. They will be remembered as long as love and music last.”

Despite the tragic circumstances of their arrival, these Famine survivors overcame many hardships to build a new life in a new land in a sometimes unforgiving climate. They found a new home and a peaceful final resting place in the green hills of the Gatineau Valley.

Today, people come from far and wide to visit the monument – and it is a mystery to many how this memorial came to be located here. The history and background on this important memorial are now in danger of being lost in the annals of time.

There is a long history to the Martindale Pioneer Cemetery and I was directly involved in establishing this memorial along with the late Martin Brown and Eddie McLaughlin in the 1970s. Our ancestors are buried in that consecrated ground.

Recently inaccurate information about this site was published in a book about burial sites in the Gatineau Valley.

Since I am the last remaining survivor of the monument committee, it is my responsibility to ensure that accurate information is recorded for posterity.

The work was never completed and a permanent marker must still be erected on the site giving background information for researchers, descendants and anyone interested in the history of the area.

I have looked into the cost and an estimate to place a permanent marker at the site is approximately $10,000.

There was never really a fundraising campaign for either the monument or the Celtic cross as they were both made possible through the generosity of a few private individuals.

It is now my intention to set up a trust fund to raise the necessary funds for the markers. The fund will be called the “Martindale Pioneer Cemetery Fund.” Donations can be made by cheque or money order and mailed to: Catholine Butler, c/o The Celtic Connection, #452 – 4111 Hastings Street, Burnaby, B.C. V5C 6T7

[This article will be of particular interest to anyone born in Martindale, Venosta or Low, Quebec and who have ancestors buried in the Martindale Pioneer Cemetery. For more information about the memorial, visit: www.celtic-connection.com, or call me at (604) 434-3747.]