Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 18 > Page 41 - How we Buried Our Dead

Page 41 - How we Buried Our Dead

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1977/12/1 (330 reads)

on. Just a black cloth right around. There was a minister came over • D.J. Gillis. He came over from Scotland in 1928. He was a Gaelic preacher, you know. And he told me, when he went to his first wake on Cape Bre? ton, "When I went in to have a look at the old fellow and him dressed up and no place to go • I didn't know what to say." Here we put on the white shirt and the tie and the whole thing. He had never seen anything like it before. But I had never even heard them talking about this shroud business here. (Would they cover the face?) No. The only thing they'd do here • there's different people I saw swelling up from the time they'd start making the casket till you'd get them in it • just swell right up tight, you know. They'd perhaps leave the casket open the first night. Then till they'd have the funeral the whole casket was closed. But I saw my father, I remember he built that coffin out there • and the cover was in two pieces like you have today. But the part where the face was going to be, when he made the cover he made an oblong hole and he put a glass there underneath. He knew that the cover had to be closed but they could look at him just the same. I think the first time that they ever went to bed here was when D.B. died. There were people there and I guess they were thinking they were going to do the same thing as they used to do~sit up all night. His wife, she had been in Boston kO years. He had been married the second time. And others of the family had been in Boston. They came home for the funeral. And they had that lunch at 10 o'clock or 11 o'clock. Then when that was over, one of the family said, "There's no need of anybody staying up." Because they don't do it away. "This thing is all foolishness," he said, "sitting up with the dead. That's gone down the river. Anybody that wants to go home can go home, because we're all going to bed. There's no need of anybody sitting up." So everybody left. That's the first time it happened here. That was 19'' or *kj. And up until then they were doing it in every house, staying up all night. (Did your father, as a coffin maker, ever see anything?) No. If he ever saw anything, he was a man who would never say anything about it. So I always kept such things out of my mind, my father was so much against them. I kept them out of my mind, even if I would see something. My father must have made 200 caskets. And when all my brothers went away, I had to start working on cas? kets. That was about 1920-21. And when we'd make the casket we'd go to the house and put the corpse in the casket. (Did that trouble you?) The first time I did it. I was trembling the first time I did it, with my father. I was trembling. But after that it just disappeared. Tom Angus and I made one for an Urquhart man who died. We start? ed at 5 in the evening and finished about midnight. Put it on a sleigh and took it to the house and put the body in it. Went in the night. Never gave it a thought. And why should I? Ladies and Children's Wear im 314 Charlotte Street SYDNBT Galvanized Steel phone: 674-2108 HANS LARSEN & AlumJnum Roofing Millville, Boularderie, R.R.#1, Bras d'Or Picnic Tables Well-water Ice Cubes Morrison's General Store WRSeK COVB TheMoxbam Room Din? in th? wanti congenial atmo- sphere of our weQ-appointed dining room. Fine food, attentive service and a comprvhensive wine list You'll enjoy dining withi ut, CaJl on ut toon. Holiday Inn of Sydneyf Nova Scotia 480 King's Road Telephone (902) 539-6750 We specialize in Camping Equipment and .Clothing of All Kinds as well as Hardware, Plumbing and Electrical Supplies Reuben McEvo/s General Store Ltd. XNOONISH BBiCH Open all year at the entrance to the beautiful Cape Breton Highlands National Park
Cape Breton's Magazine
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