The elimination of grave markers from the Cemetery at Woodlands in 1976 effectively transformed the site into a mass grave for the 3065 persons buried there.
In the planning of this Dead and Buried project it was important to me that my Woodlands art work and this exhibition play a critical roll in returning the old cemetery back to its original function. This restoration of the site would first require finding a way to repatriate the individual grave markers.
Existing maps of the cemetery layout were incomplete and inaccurate. With the gravestones gone, using these maps to locate individual burial plots was next to impossible. It was clear to me that rehabilitating the cemetery would require a remapping of the entire site.
Together with Ian Walker BCLS, new measurements of the site were taken and we were able to produce an accurate drawing. Then by referencing, existing cemetery documentation, vintage aerial photographs of the site and the actual positioning of several original gravestones, which, fortuitously, had remained in situ, we were able to re-establish the cemetery grid. The new map accurately plots the original configuration of burial lots and ties them into the Satellite Global Positioning System.
Attaching corresponding GPS coordinates to each of the names in the cemetery database has provided each deceased with a new digital headstone. Now, after 33 years in obscurity, each of those names is once again linked with a specific 4’ X 7’ piece of ground within the cemetery site.
Furthermore this remapping displays an accurate relationship between existing architectural features of the 2006 Memorial Garden which presently occupies the site and the numbered block and lot configuration of the 1958 cemetery. So even without GPS technology, using this map as a guide, it is now possible to find the general location of particular gravesites with reasonable accuracy.