Darfield Cemetery annual cleanup is a gathering of community

Sunday, June 10, 2018, was a bright and warm day when members of the Darfield Community Club gathered at the Cemetery for their annual cleanup work.

This was not an ordinary work crew, it looked as if there were four generations present, parents, grandparents, school children and younger children all had come with tools to get to work.

By 10 a.m. almost everyone had arrived except for a few stragglers.

Everyone had gathered to help clean up the grave sites of their loved ones, which also gave them the opportunity to chat with people they had not seen for some time.

Those who finished early then helped the ones who had several graves to look after.

While the adults worked the children had a good time chasing around the place.

A former Darfield resident, who had grown up in Darfield, and whose parents were married in the Darfield Community Hall, had traveled from Vernon and had brought her big dog along. There was no problem with the dog participating, it fitted right in with everybody.

Cleaning up the graves involved removing weeds, raking the site clean of all debris that had accumulated over the past year, scrubbing the gravestones with soap and water to give them a shine again, and in general making the place look ‘cared for’.

This Darfield burial site was established 83 years ago, and both then and now is maintained by the Darfield Community Club.

Before this cemetery came into being, local residents were interred either in Barriere, Little Fort or Kamloops, or on the home place.

In 1935 a government-owned lot on top of a hill that overlooked the North Thompson River was used for burials. Later, a two-acre site was surveyed around the existing graves and all became officially the Darfield Cemetery which is accessed by an easement through DL 1696, which is a field belonging to the Schilling family.

The annual cleanup is held in June because in order to keep the Cemetery a government official comes out in July for an annual inspection to certify that everything is in proper order.

The Cemetery holds memories of early funerals when the body of a deceased loved one lay at home until local men were found to build a coffin. Women in the community made wreaths and bouquets from whatever was available at the time of year and locally grown. Men dug the graves with pick and shovel, a tough job in all the rock, clay and roots at the site.

Today such down to earth, hands-on funeral arrangements are hard to imagine, but the community members did what needed to be done at the time. Even after all the years, there has not been much change, as is evident by the Darfield Community Club still being in charge of the old Cemetery.

Reminiscing and chatting with each of the clean-up participants it was found all agreed that the Darfield Cemetery was a place like no other for eternally being laid to rest. The soothing sounds of nature were almost the only sounds to be heard in this tree-shaded community graveyard.

Several area families with connections to the first Darfield residents have plots reserved for future family burials, made possible by making arrangements through the Community Club secretary, Debbie Rainer.

After completing the cleanup work, everybody went to the Darfield Community Hall for potluck lunch. More chairs had to be brought in because others joined the group who were not able to participate in the cleanup for a number of reasons. Everyone enjoyed the great food after a job well done.

People commented on how special the gathering had been. It was almost like a homecoming where everyone was relaxed and catching up on what was happening in their families without speeches and announcements.

The children had a great time getting as much dessert as their Moms allowed them to have, and thoroughly enjoyed dashing around the hall without being reprimanded.

Once again the Darfield Cemetery Cleanup was a great community event, and we are looking forward to next yearn when it will all come together again.

 

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