Restoring Lacombe’s history, one monument at a time

The Fairview Cemetery Cleaning project attracted 15 volunteers who cleaned 75 monuments

Some of the monuments in the Fairview Cemetery are over 100 years old and, as such, have had ample time to build up moss and lichens.

On Aug. 21, around 15 volunteers helped to restore some of those monuments.

The volunteers were able to finish cleaning 75 monuments on Friday. There are several thousand monuments located in Fairview Cemetery.

“Some of those monuments have been in place for over a hundred years,” Maureen MacKenzie, community services executive assistant with the City, explained. “With the amount of buildup that’s on them, they can take a couple of hours for one volunteer to work on. You have to scrub really gently so you’re not damaging the monument itself.”

The Friday cleanup was the first time the City and volunteers came together to take care of the monumnet in the cemetary, according to MacKenzie.

MacKenzie put a call out on Facebook for the event and said she was surprised by the response.

“We put out a call on our City Facebook page just explaining what we wanted to do and to find out if there were any citizens that were interested in helping learn how to clean them and do the cleaning,” said MacKenzie.

Monument restoration requires use of special biological products that won’t damage the stones or destroy the lettering. Cleaning the monuments takes some special care too.

“We spray them on, we let them sit for five or 10 minutes and we start to work with a brush and water and gently remove the lichens and the moss off of the stones,” said MacKenzie. “The biologics will remain on the stones and continue to act on the stones for several weeks to a month and continue to remove any moss and lichen we weren’t able to remove ourselves.”

Once the stones are clear of moss and lichen, City staff will be able to simply spray the biological agent on the stones to keep them clean. However, it will take some time and volunteer effort before the monuments are at that stage.

MacKenzie plans on having another cleaning day sometime this September during the weekend so more volunteers are able to help out.

Mackenzie also said families are welcome to clean their own monuments, as long as approved products are used.

Five years ago, the City put in a “perpetual care fund fee” for all the plots from the cemetery that were sold. The money was collected and put in a reserve.

“Now we have funds available that we can access to do these types of things, if monuments are unstable or if there’s a lot of moss or lichen that’s accumulated on them, we can take care of those things now,” said MacKenzie.

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