May 22, 2012

Old Hillside Cemetery

I explored the old Hillside Cemetery in the early spring before the trees had began to blossom, which admittedly gave the area an added eeriness.  In documenting points of interest around Medicine Hat a graveyard may seem like a strange choice, but this was actually one of the city's first.  As the city grew, the site became increasingly cut off and neglected and as such, the area has been maintained by the city as a park since around 1945.  It's easy to drive right by it and not pay much attention, but the gravestones tell some interesting stories.

St. Barnabas was the first church to use the cemetery in 1884, a date which paints a picture of how secluded these stones would've been from the rest of town at the time. This replaced a small plot directly behind the church.  Reading the grave stones is a bit shocking when you realize how many children are buried at the site.  Combine this with the aged stones, some of which are badly cracked, have fallen over, or sit behind severely rusted gates, and it's difficult not to feel like you're on the set of a horror film. Everything seems staged given that much of it is comfortably over 100 years old without any modern additions. 

The old Hillside Cemetery has been preserved almost in a state of limbo.  It's not a park to picnic in, and yet it hasn't been an active cemetery for over 60 years.  Aside from being a great place to tell ghost stories on Halloween, I think it's best left to the deer that enjoy wandering through and those who might be curious about some of the city's first residents.


Wendy said...

Loving this post Luke! I've always been fascinated by cemeteries. When I lived closer to the oldest cemetery in Regina, I used to go there to sketch, simply because of the seclusion and history.

Susan said...

Beautiful, Luke. I grew up in Medicine Hat and have a new appreciation for the Hillside cemetery because of your photos. Thank you for this - will be visiting it next time I'm home.