skip to Main Content

RE: Update Holy Cross

Greetings Peter, Mark, et al.

Bruce Elliott & Sanna Guerin
Our part of the project is to explore Holy Cross as a Catholic cemetery and its grave markers as symbols of Irish Catholic identity and products of the wider North American monument industry. Despite the superb cooperation given us by the Holy Cross Trust (Paul Armstrong especially has been a delight to work with, and Peter Morris has been very helpful), we encountered some initial difficulties arising from the nature of the materials already assembled. An honours essay prepared by a student who initiated the photographing of the monuments, which was later taken over by the Holy Cross Trust, included a preliminary partial analysis (though little in the way of explanations), and we had hoped to begin with the spreadsheet that he had prepared. But the CD was missing from the deposit copy of his honours essay, and neither he nor the Trust nor the I.T. people at St Mary’s University have been able to provide a copy. The inscriptions database that built upon that original spreadsheet and that was provided to us by the Trust had had the columns removed that would allow analysis of the iconography, materials, and form of the markers, as this information had been judged not of relevance to their projected genealogical project. A second problem was that the later photographs were low-resolution and are not suitable for publication and in some cases cannot be enlarged sufficiently to serve as a source for data entry. My research assistant Sanna Guerin therefore visited Halifax for a week in October and spent several days in the cemetery replacing many of the low-res. photos with higher resolution ones, and made a brief visit to the Archdiocesan archives where she was able to copy some material relevant to the cemetery. Some additional material she had requested has been located subsequently but requested copies have yet to arrive. Sanna also spent some time at PANS and made copies of index catalogue cards relating to Halifax and area cemeteries and copied the statutes dealing with Holy Cross and the other city cemeteries. Back at home, she at length commenced redoing the missing data columns using the photographs. We are using categories that we derived from those employed in the monument industry literature rather than those used in the preliminary student analysis which were based on a British archaeological recording guide. We have also assembled a bibliography on Irish gravestones and have some of those secondary materials in hand.

We intend to make a joint presentation at the Canadian Catholic Historical Association conference in St Catharines in May. The Halifax research, revised spreadsheet, Bruce’s research on the Halifax and broader North American gravestone industries, and what literature is available on Irish markers, will enable us to explain the reasons for the creation of Holy Cross Cemetery and to present a basic statistical analysis and explanation of the evolving iconography, materials, and forms of the markers in both Irish and North American contexts.

Projected title:
The creation of Holy Cross Cemetery, Halifax, and its Irish-Canadian grave markers

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Bruce

Back To Top