There’s a quiet field in the Pend d’Oreille Valley lying untilled, it’s no good for farming.
But it’s peaceful setting makes for a perfect resting spot – a permanent resting spot that is.
John Urquhart Sr. has lived and raised his family in the rural valley since the 50s. Through the years, he’s helped lay locals to rest nearby his homestead in the Pend d’Oreille Cemetery, which is gated off and no longer active.
So it’s a spiritual quest for him to rest for eternity in the land that he cherishes, which is why John is trying to establish a new grave site on the hillside.
“It’s my intention to try and get the graveyard activated – not the present graveyard – but the land on the either side of it,” John said. “It’s a hay field but it’s poor quality soil and the farming value is very low. And I’m not talking about a lush green graveyard, I am talking about a rural graveyard that the cows can walk over, that type of thing because that’s what it has always been up here.”
The field is a good size, eight acres of dry soil, which John says is perfect for burials.
He mentioned a friend who passed away a number of years ago, and bequeathed that she be laid to rest in Mountain View Cemetery.
John recalled that even though it was June, when they went to bury her that summer afternoon, the hole was filled with water.
“The funeral home had to go back up the next morning and pump the hole dry before she could be buried,” he explained. “That wouldn’t happen out here because the property is all sand.”
So far, John has only chatted with rural neighbours about his idea to establish a new cemetery. Before officially approaching the regional district (the land is in Area A), his next step is to start a petition and gather signatures from valley residents.
“There’s only 20 of us, so that shouldn’t be a big thing,” he said, mentioning issues like who should be buried in the new site have yet to be clarified.
“I think this should be open to everybody because you never know what ties people have to the Pend d’Oreille,” John said.
“Because we have people who drive up here two or three times a week just because they really enjoy this valley and want to spend time here.”
John recalled digging graves in the Pend d’Oreille Cemetery – located on Highway 22A at the top of the hill leading to Seven Mile Dam Road – when it was still active.
“The funeral home handled the service, but a grave needed to be dug,” he said. “They didn’t have the equipment out here to handle it, so we did it.”
The site has 30 graves and a few remaining headstones, most of which are unreadable.
The last person buried there was Lilian Wray in 1996. Born in 1882, she was 106 years old at the time of her passing.