REMARKS AND UNVEILING OF PLAQUE, given by Honorable Bruce Stewart
Thank you, Father Gillis and Father Brazil, Ladies and Gentlemen. It's cold here and I'm certainly not going to keep you very long, there are just one or two thoughts I'd like to leave with you. One is, regarding the restoration of your cemetery here. This cemetery was restored largely through the efforts of one driving force In the Department of Health there is a Division of Vital Statistics, and at the head of that Vital Statistics, there is a man by the name of John McAleer and John McAleer is a man who is interested in the Heritage because John feels that if fuere wasn't a past, there certainly will be no future for us.
As you heard Father Gillis say that on this thanksgiving afternoon, it was a time to give thanks for those who lie in wait in this cemetery, dating back from the time it opened in the year 1805 and going on to the year 1895, for 90 years. The original settlers, from this area, from St.Margaret's Parish were buried in this Cemetery until a new location was selected some time later.
In the late 1790's when the McEacherns and the McCormicks and Hughie Joseph's forefathers and so forth, came to this part of the country, they were interested in establishing a church here, as Father Gillis said. And in the year 1805, your priest of the day wrote to the Bishop in Quebec as related in the history book by Rev. John a. MacMillan and he asked if there could be established a church in this area and in the year approximately 1805 at Naufrage, permission was granted to the priest to open a church in Naufrage and it was built there 34' long and 24'wide. Sometime later in the year 1816 another church was built, right over here, and that church was somewhat larger as history book says with an 18' post.
It was from these starts that St. Margaret's had it's beginning on contacting the Bishop in Quebec, he said, it is necessary here in the year of 1805 to open a cemetery and the word came back was "Your cemetery can be opened, provided two things take place. One is your cemetery be fenced and that the other was that Father, it be blessed. This cemetery was both, fenced and blessed, however, it fell into a state of disrepair. Three years or four years ago, there were three headstones left standing outside here and the rest of the 132 headstones that you see put back together by this man over here, Pat Lundrigan, they were lying in a state of disrepair. Now you can see what has happened, 132 of them in honour of Pat McCormack's great-great-grandfather and so forth,who is resting here and the others.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it is with pride then, that our Department of Health has played and had some hand in helping you to restore it, because I know from my travels here over the last 29 years that you have in St. Margaret's and Naufrage and Big Pond and so forth, a great heritage, one that you are very proud of.
Father Gillis told me that I could only speak for two minutes. I'd love to have about two hours ( ha ha ), but ladies and gentlemen this morning when I got up and the fire was out and the electricity was off at home, I was reminded that in 1770, the fire was out in St. Margaret's too because according to that history by Rev. John C. MacMillan, he said that in the year of 1770 the way you made your fire then was by a flintstone and a tinder, but the weather was so good that all the fires went out and they couldn't find the flintstone, so they petitioned six girls who walked all the way to Cable Head and came back with live coals, probably the first real possession of that type ever to be held on P.E.I. But Ladies and Gentlemen, it is now a rededication day, we are proud to have taken a small part in it and I am sure that as we unveil this, it will be to the pride of your forefathers and may they rest in peace.