Veterans cemetery gets few visitors

Fort Massey Cemetery at the corner of Queen and South Streets
A small number of visitors
Sacrifice Monument
Headstone marking the grave of an unknown soldier
The Cenotaph at the Grand Parade

Before you were in sight of the War Memorial at Halifax City Hall you could hear the dull roar of crowds waiting for Remembrance Day ceremonies to begin. But across town, Fort Massey Cemetery was all but silent except for a few who came to pay their respects at the graves of loved ones. 

Visitors to the cemetery noted the improvements made in recent years but were disappointed at the condition of the grounds on this solemn occasion. The grass had not been cut and a trash can appeared to be knocked over and was blowing over graves.

“These things never get done. It’s not looked after the way it should be,” said Tom Sampson of Halifax, who served in the Royal Canadian Regiment in the 1950s.

Stones dating as far back as the 1750s mark the final resting place of British subjects buried before Canada’s independence. Eighty-six Commonwealth soldiers killed in the First World War are buried here alongside 41 soldiers killed in the Second World War. Most of these graves are located along the south side of the cemetery. The spouses of British and Canadian veterans are also buried in the cemetery.

The Cross of Sacrifice Monument at the heart of the cemetery commemorates the sacrifice of two servicemen killed at their post moments before the Halifax Explosion — their remains were never found. 

Fort Massey is one of only two military cemeteries owned and managed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. In 2005, the department celebrated the Year of the Veteran and announced major restorations to the site to be completed in 2006.

The sight of only one wreath, placed by the Liberal Caucus at the foot of the Cross of Sacrifice served as the only reminder – We shall not forget.