Friday, June 19, 2009

How to find Harold and Kathy Mah's gravesite

After we visited my grandparents' grave, we needed to go to Auntie Kathy's burial. But the only information we had about the location was that it was called "Alto Reste," no address. (OK, this is the importance of following the caravan.) But thankfully, there's the 21st century cell phone. First, I tried to find it on the Internet. With no luck there, I spotted a sign for "Red Deer Cemetary Services" outside the Red Deer Cemetery, and I called that number. That happened to ring at Alto Reste, and I got good directions out there.

Unfortunately, Google does not have a satellite photo of this area, nor does this cemetery have an actual address. Just type "Alto Reste, Red Deer" into Google Maps and you get this:

Basically, you head out 2A and it pops right up on the right. Drive on in and go straight back (perpendicular to 2A), going around an obstacle or two. Then take the last left that isn't all the way behind everything. Here's two views from the intersection nearest the plot:

We had missed everyone (saw some of them driving the other way on the way out), but we watched Auntie Kathy's casket get lowered into the ground. I found out later from Sheldon that they had done it with everyone there, but someone noticed they'd pointed her backwards. So we saw the final lowering. Last shot: the headstone.

I lifted the Astroturf off Uncle Harold and spread more ashes, then sprinkled some on Auntie Kathy's casket too.

That wraps up Alberta. On our drive out, Debbie said she just heard from Dad's ghost, and he had said "Good son."

Aww, thanks Dad.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

How to find the gravesite of Dad's parents, Mah Foo and Ven Fong Wong

First, you go to Red Deer, Alberta.

It was only after arriving at Gaetz Memorial Church for Auntie Kathy's services on June 1 that we discovered that she was not being buried at the same graveyard as my grandparents. We always thought of Red Deer as a pretty small place, but with 88,000 current residents, they have two graveyards. This left us without much time to visit both graveyards before making the 75 minute drive back to Calgary to catch our plane.

When the procession after the services appeared to have no police escort, and we realized the entire group was doing a drive-by of the family house (A Chinese luck ritual... there's a million of 'em), Mom wisely suggested we bail on that caravan and go find Dad's parents' site first. Unfortunately, the directions I gleaned and cross-referenced from people before the service were terrible. We took a long time to finally find the Red Deer Cemetery.

Best tip: The cemetery is only listed as being on "55 Street," but if you put 3980 55 St, Red Deer, Alberta into a Google Maps search, it comes up right at the cemetery entrance. There's plenty of street parking. If Google changes over time and this search doesn't work so well, just find the "Michener Centre" and go West a block or so. Or try "55 St. and McLellan Drive." At this point in time, the satellite photo loaded into Google is ancient... the cemetery is hardly developed at all. Park near the Google "A" on the map and follow the red line to the red dot.
The following photo sequence shows the views you'll see as you walk towards the spot. Once you get to the giant shed to the left of section V, you count in 13 rows to the right and then go halfway up the row. Right now there's a birdhouse at the other end of row 13.
Finally, here's a shot of me completing the mission to spread Dad's ashes on his parents' grave.
Last stop, Alto Reste with Uncle Harold and Auntie Kathy.

How to find Barry Mar's gravesite

At the end of May Auntie Kathy unexpectedly passed away, and so Mom, Debbie, Winnie, and I made the trip to Alberta to attend the funeral. The story of that trip is told on my family website here. While we were up there, we were determined to visit all the family graves and spread Dad's ashes over them.

Finding the graves proved so difficult, that I resolved to document the directions for anyone who wants to make the journey. Even once we found the graveyards, finding the graves was such a hopeless endeavor that it was only through Winnie's bloodhound-like skills and her receptiveness to guidance from the family ghosts that we were able to find Uncle Barry and our grandparents.

So first: Calgary and Uncle Barry.

Uncle Barry is buried at Queens Park Cemetery at 3219 4th Street N.W., T2M 3A6, phone number 403-221-3660. The plot location is Lot W, Block B4, Section L67, but frankly all we ever found to mark any of it was a signpost marking lot W in it's Northeast corner. A key feature of this lot is that there are no standing headstones... all of them lie flat. Here's the map (click to enlarge) that you'll actually need:

Park where the red line stops. The grave is approximately where I put the red dot. See the shot below for how the surrounding area looks. Note the building immediately West, and the view of the treeline looking East.

Don't count on any help from the cemetery personnel or signage. Any buildings they had were locked up tight in the middle of a Sunday, with no maps posted.

Next, my grandparents.