Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

Culture and historic cemeteries to come under focus as Broch Research Collective hosts workshop, public lecture

June 3rd, 2014
Pictured are members of the Broch Research Collective

The Broch Research Collective, a recently formed interdepartmental research team at StFX, exploring the beliefs, attitudes, and practices surrounding death and dying among Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island immigrant Scots, will host both a workshop and a public lecture this month. 

As one of its first initiatives, the Collective will host an invite-only workshop, “R.I.P.:  Research, Innovation and Preservation in Nova Scotia’s Historic Cemeteries,” on June 14. 

Among the presenters at the workshop will be Elise Ciregna, public historian, who has worked at both Mount Auburn and Forest Hills Cemeteries, two of American’s most celebrated historic cemeteries; Dr. Gillian Poulter, an historian at Acadia University, who is currently studying the history of death and funeral practices in Nova Scotia; and Dr. Grant Aylesworth, who, in partnership with the Archaeological Services Unit in New Brunswick, has developed a 3-D software technology for reading illegible tombstones.

Broch Collective members will also be participating in the workshop. Dr. Dan McInnes and Dr. Michael Linkletter will be moderators, and Dr. Mikael Haller, Dr. Laurie Stanley-Blackwell, and Dr. Brenda Appleby, Susan Cameron, and Shamus Macdonald will be presenters. Meghann Livingston, a senior anthropology student, will also be a presenter, while Christopher Greencorn, an honours history student, is assisting with the organization of the workshop and public lecture. 

On June 13, the Broch Collective will also host a lecture by Deborah Trask, Curator Emeritus, Nova Scotia Museum. Trask, a graduate of Acadia University, served as curator for a number of departments and a multitude of exhibits at the Nova Scotia Museum over a span of 30 years before her retirement from that position. She has written and lectured extensively on gravestones in Nova Scotia, and is the authority on the subject in Canada; her 1978 book Life How Short, Eternity How Long, now out of print, is a landmark volume on gravestones and gravestone carving. Praised upon release as an “exciting” study in the material culture of Nova Scotia, her book inspired a wave of cemetery preservation efforts by community heritage groups across the province.

Deborah Trask         Photo Credit: Roger Lloyd, NS-DCCH

Her lecture, titled “Remember Me as You Pass By: The Lure and Lore of Gravestones,” will be held at the People’s Place Library, starting at 7 p.m., and is free of charge and open to the public.

Both events are sponsored by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada; StFX Centre for Regional Studies; Dr. Leslie MacLaren, StFX Academic Vice-President and Provost; Dr. Richard Nemesvari, Dean of Arts; the Angus L. Macdonald Library; and the Departments of History, Religious Studies, Anthropology and Celtic Studies.

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