Before Slocan was a City, it had a “Civic Commission”. In 1897, it was this group that initially approached the town trustee, Frank Fletcher, for a plot of ground for the purposes of creating a cemetery. Mr. Fletcher was agreeable and suggested that the group select a suitable location. On Aug 28, 1897, the Slocan Pioneer reported that the section of ground located in the south-west part of the city had been selected for a cemetery and was accepted by Mr Fletcher. Robert Bradshaw, Archibald York and John Foley were the intended trustees that would hold the deed. However, in 1901, the Slocan Drill reported that the City is still no closer to acquiring the deed to the cemetery, which by now had a number of permanent residents.
From 1901 to 1903, there was much discussion in Council surrounding the deed and they were anxious to get it settled. It seemed that Mr Fletcher felt that the cemetery was too close to town and he wanted to replace the three acres they had with a 5-10 acre plot in another location. It seems to have been settled as the cemetery has not moved.
Slocan Drill – 3 May 1901 – A plot of land, 100 feet square, has been secured in the cemetery, by the Oddfellows as a burial ground. They are clearing up the plot and will seed it down with grass and enclose it with a neat fence.
Slocan Drill – 19 June 1903 – There was an imposing parade here on Sunday afternoon, when the Oddfellows, Orangemen and Miners Union, headed by the band, united for the purpose of decorating the graves of their brethren in the local cemetery. A large concourse of citizens also attended. Suitable ceremonies were performed at the cemetery by each organization, and the several graves were handsomely decorated with flowers. It was a pleasant spectacle.
In the spring of 1935, the Women’s Institute began discussing how water could be brought to the cemetery. They wrote a letter to MLA Sid Leary to request that men on relief dig ditches to lay pipe for water from the old skating rink to the cemetery.
During the internment of Japanese Canadians in the Slocan Valley, Buddhism was incorporated as best as it could be in a community that had not encountered this belief system before. From the New Canadian newspaper Sept. 4, 1944: “Plans have been made by the Slocan Buddhist Mission Society to erect a memorial monument (seirei to) in commemoration of the deceased who were cremated at the Slocan cemetery before the New Denver Crematorium was completed.” Six men, one woman, one child, and one infant meet this criteria. The crematorium was established in April 1943. Seirei to means “with the spirits.”
The monument has an inscription on each side of the post:
North side: “Fellow countrymen — Cremated here”
South side: “Rebuilt — Slocan — Donated”
East side: “May 1969”
West side: “Buddha have mercy on me”
“The number of deaths registered at Slocan from 1942-46 (73 of them) was far greater than any other similar period in its history, reflecting both the size of the population during the internment and the harsh conditions Japanese Canadians lived in. By comparison, from 1897 to 1902, the height of the mining boom, there were only 15 deaths. There were 19 deaths from 1947 to 1952, and only four from 1936 to 1941 (none in 1939, 1940, or 1941). The number of births likely follows a similar pattern, but we won’t know until 2067 when those records become public.” (Greg Nesteroff)
Several oldtimers recall a story of one of the ladies of “ill repute”, who when she passed away, many of the religious in town would not allow her to be buried in the cemetery. So she was buried outside of the cemetery, just to the right of the fence. A court case ensued and the verdict was that she needed to be buried inside the cemetery, and so the fence was enlarged to include her grave. This madam went by the name of Maud Taylor and was also known as Amanda Smith.
In 1954, the City of Slocan enacted bylaw #180 which expanded the cemetery boundaries to it’s current size. Therefore Maud Taylor aka Amanda Smith was now in the cemetery proper.