Many of you may not know that there is an old cemetery located just west of the hamlet of Exshaw. There were approximately 70 people buried in the cemetery but few graves are still marked. The cemetery was in use from 1906 to 1925, after which time people were buried in the Canmore cemetery (except for children burials in 1929 and 1935). A large number of the interred were children and adults who died during flu pandemics.
The MD of Bighorns Heritage Resource Committee has been gathering information on the Exshaw Cemetery in order to secure the cemeterys history before it is lost. We have combed old Improvement District files, Exshaw school projects information from the late 1970s, brought in microfiches of old Rocky Mountains Park of Canada records, as well as used information found in the book Exshaw Heart of the Valley by Alexander and Cooper (2005).List of compiled information.
Major restorations of the cemetery were undertaken by Lafarge Canada Inc. in 1984 and 2003. The cemetery has been surrounded by a chain link fence and a plaque was posted listing some of the names of those buried there.Access remains restricted due to safety concerns; however, visits can be arranged by contacting Lafarge.
The site is largely overgrown now with many aspen and pine trees as well as thick grass and bushes, and the MD plans to work with Lafarge and Alberta Public Lands to determine a long term maintenance program. The cemetery sits on Crown land in an unused area of the Lafarge quarry. Access is restricted, due to quarry safety concerns, but visits can be arranged for relatives or other people with a special link to the cemetery by contacting Lafarge Canada Inc..
In the summer of 2011, Lafarge staff guided MD of Bighorn staff through the cemetery to GPS locations of the existing grave markers and to take photographs. The points were then plotted on a map.
A copy of a 1922 plan of the cemetery from the Rocky Mountain Park of Canada was obtained but it is difficult to correlate the graves shown on the old map with the possible grave sites recordedby the GPS.
The plaque placed outside the cemetery by the municipality in 1984 lists some of the names of persons who were known at the time to be buried in the cemetery. Since 1984, the list of names has grown slightly. Only two grave markers have names, that of D. Colpo and Frederick Sammy Goodman.
A tour of the cemetery arranged by the MD of Bighorn and Lafarge was held in September 2014. There were two busloads of visitors who appreciated the opportunity to see the cemetery. Discovering old Exshaw in a cryptic way – Rocky Mountain Outlook October 2, 2014.
The HRC further acknowledged the need to protect the cemetery. As such, a second memorial plaque was installed in 2015 by the HRC and Lafarge, to include 24 newly discovered names, to promote awareness and preservation of the cemetery site. Exshaw’s hidden cemetery receives updated memorial – Rocky Mountain Outlook – December 9, 2015.
WWI Soldier – Goodman, Frederick George, Attestation Paper
WWI Soldier – Shanks, Andrew – Attestation Paper