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Community brings historic gravestone back to life

 

Gary Boice informs crowd about Susanna Moodie [1]

Gary Boyce informs crowd about historic author Susanna Moodie              Photo by Dylan O’Hagan

 

By Dylan O’Hagan [2]

BELLEVILLE – After a decade of neglect, a passionate group of Belleville residents have resurrected Susanna Moodie’ [3]s gravestone, bringing it and its famous historic author back into the public eye on Oct. 8.

Over 30 people were in attendance including members of Susanna Moodie Elementary school who cheered and applauded it was unveiled.  Mayor Neil Ellis and local historian Gary Boyce both stood proudly in front of the crowd to speak about the Moodies. Ellis spoke of fond memories spent in the Moodie cottage and Susanna’s contributions to the local area. While Boyce enlightened the crowd of her many famous books on life in Canada and her other literary achievements.

Originally placed in Belleville cemetery in 1885,  Moodie’s gravestone marked where one of Canada’s most influential authors rest. Most known for her book “Roughing It in the Bush”, which she co-authored with her sister, Catherine Parr Traill. The book is still valued to this day for its significance in Canadian history and culture.

Moodie eventually settled down near what is now modern day Belleville.  She moved after failing at farming in the modern Peterborough area. It was from her experiences in this area that inspired the famous novel “Life in the Clearings”. The Moodies settled down in Belleville in a small cottage until the death of her husband, John Moodie, in 1869.

For over a century, the marble gravestone sat, slowly deteriorating. It was in 2001 that the crumbling gravestone was replaced with a replica and the original was hidden from the world in Campbell Monument storage on Dundas Street.

“And since then it’s been looking for a home”, said Campbell Monuments [4] President Gary Foster, who recognized the beauty of the monument and said he wanted to help bring the original back.

In the present day, the sparkling gravestone has found new life in Freestone Park, on the east side of Meyer’s Pier, as it sits on walking path next to the Bay of Quinte.

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