Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 71 > Page 29 - Mary Willa Littler and "The Strangers' Grave"

Page 29 - Mary Willa Littler and "The Strangers' Grave"

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1996/12/1 (287 reads)

Mary Willa Littler and "The Strangers' Grave" INTRODUCTION: In Springhill In 1891, there was an explosion that took 125 lives. Most of the dead were burled there. Some were sent back home for burial, to places like Pictou, and Glace Bay and lona In Cape Breton. Those who could not be Identified were burled In a single grave In Spring? hill • known as "The Strangers' Grave." Since 1981, by a process of elimination, Mary Willa Lit? tler has been working to name the people In "The Strangers' Grave." Further, she has been placing granite markers at the graves she has found out? side of Springhill, to let the person passing by In Pictou or Glace Bay or lona know that, burled here. Is a person • a man or a boy • who died In the 1891 Explosion at Springhill. Here's a portion of our talks with Mary Willa, in September 1996: (Is this your first time in Glace Bay?) No.... Actually, I haven't been here for about six years, for any length of time, for a few days at a time. But I came in July, and I made a little bit of headway, just on a short weekend. Of course, after I left, then Wally Buchanan, who's the caretaker up here at Greenwood Cemetery--he called Mrs. Clark after I left and said that he found what I was looking for. (So you had come looking for something spe? cific in the Greenwood Cemetery, and you weren't able to find it.) That's right. I'd been looking for William Burchell for 15 years. I knew he was buried somewhere in the Glace Bay area. I knew he was from Cal? edonia Mines, according to the newspaper articles that I had from 1891.... And so I came (to Cape Breton) probably in the fall in 1986, the fall of '87. '88, '89. In 1990, I went as far as lona. And I didn't come all the way to Glace Bay be? cause time didn't permit and I wanted to place that marker at John Gillis's grave at that time, and I just thought--it's too much, to do a few things at the same time. Mary Willa Littler at the grave of William Burchell, Giace Bay So I went back home from lona. And then, it wasn't till last summer I came here (to Glace Bay), just for the day, with my niece. And I brought some of these markers that I've been telling you about. {The markers are heavy granite stones, ahout 8 inches square, engraved with a pit helmet and the date, 1891. See the photo on page 31.) And I left them here at Art Littler's house in Glace Bay. He and I are not related, but we're pretty good friends. So I left them at his house. And I said, I'll come back next year and do this, a little bit more research.... So I came in July. When I was here I PIPER'S TRAILER COURT Featuring: Fully Licensed Dining Room Laundromat Mini-Mart Ocean-Side Campsites Swimining Pool 929-2233 929-2067 Indian Brook on the Cabot Trail (Halfway between Baddeck and ingonish) From either direction on the Cabot Trail, plan for comfort and welcome Piper's Old Manse GUEST HOUSE with Bed and Breakfast . OPEN YEAR ROUND > The only key to trouble-free and long car life is regular and careful maintenance. For over 25 years, maintenance • solely of European cars • has been our occupation. If you don't wish to maintain your car, neither do we!! if you do, we'd like to help!! EUROCAR SERVICE LTD. 649 WESTMOUNT ROAD SYDNEY 564-9721 29
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