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The Fight for Registration

The Ontario Genealogical Society and the Ontario Historical Society (OHS) have been working side by side for many years now to protect Ontario Cemeteries. One of the best avenues of protection a cemetery can have is to be registered.

The most recent attempt at legislative change: Bill 126, Inactive Cemeteries Protection Act, 2010, a private members bill, introduced by the honorable James Brownell of Stormont, Dundas and South Glengarry, died on the order papers due to the prorogation of the legislature on June 1, 2011 and the subsequent election.

But, OGS and OHS received a life line from Jim Brownell. He arranged for a joint OGS-OHS meeting with John Gerretsen, then Minister of Business Services: the Ministry in charge of cemeteries registration.

We presented Minister Gerretsen with a list of more than 1500 unregistered cemeteries across the province and had a first hand opportunity to tell the Minister about the lack of protection and high risk of removal for unregistered cemeteries. As a result, we received a letter of undertaking from the Registrar of Cemeteries, Michael D’Mello.

The Ministry plans to register unregistered cemeteries! To this end, we have been asked to submit the data county by county and to include modern identifying information such as GPS, and street addresses.

The joint OGS and OHS Cemetery Registration Committee has been resuscitated and, with assistance from many hardworking branch cemeteries committees, is working to compile the necessary information and send it to the Registrar. The OGS Cemetery Locator is being updated as we move along by county, with the goal of making it as complete a record of cemeteries in Ontario as possible.

None of this can happen without the co-operation of our branches and our genealogical and historical friends who have first hand knowledge of their areas. We ask that people check out the Cemetery Locator to see what is on record for your county or region. We invite anyone with cemetery information, particularly little known or abandoned cemeteries to contact us.

Please help the OGS/OHS Cemetery Registration Committee remain alive! We look forward to hearing from the friends of cemeteries. We plan to keep you posted as we send the government further information.

Please share your information via email to cemeteries@ogs.on.ca.

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