July 11, 2006

Neglected tombstones restored in memorial project

JJ Lee tours a memorial garden designed to address the history of abuse at the Woodlands Institution in New Westminster.

The Woodlands Institution in New Westminster originally buried dead patients in an on-site cemetary. It's believed 3300 bodies are there.

Most of the buried were patients at the asylum and many were children with physical and mental disabilities.

While the Woodlands has been closed since 1996, a provincial inquiry concluded in 2002 there was a history of sexual and physical abuse at the institution.

The deceased at Woodlands were treated no better. Back in the 1970s the burial ground was designated a park and most of the tombstones were removed. Many stones were recycled for use in the staff barbeque pits and to line drainage ditches. Some were unceremoniously dumped and buried as waste.

But this summer, the site is being transformed into a memorial garden. Driving the rehabilitation is series of residential developments on the old Woodlands grounds.

Erik Lees has the job the recuperate the neglected burial ground, to be renamed the Woodlands Memorial Garden. He's a landscape architect based in Vancouver who specializes in cemetary and memorial design.

Erik Lees took JJ Lee on a tour of the garden on a Sunday morning.

****audio no longer available****

No comments:

Post a Comment