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Chelsea author revives dead in lively history book
By Ian London
Chelsea author and researcher Carol Martin has been spending a lot of her time among the local dead.
Very much alive herself, Martin recently published In Memory of Chelsea's Historic Cemeteries, an historical tome which explores the resting places and the lives of the community's earliest residents.
"This is a project I just loved," Martin said. "The more I looked the more I found. It turned into quite an adventure."
Her book is a timely one as one of the cemeteries she chronic1ed - the Old Chelsea Protestant Burial Ground, was lately acquired by the municipality and Martin will be offering guided tours this weekend when an inauguration ceremony takes place at 11:30 a.m. on June 5.
Martin's interest in local burial plots stems from research conducted for a master's thesis she presented to the University of Ottawa's history department. Much of that work is now available to anyone now that she's rewritten it in book form.
In addition to the Protestant Burial Ground Martin also examines the Chelsea Pioneer Cemetery, St. Stephen's Cemetery and Che1sea's Homestead Plots. The book provides directions to the sites, facts about each one, a site plan, and descriptions of three walking tours. It also offers biographical details of Chelsea's important historical ?gures and some interesting insights into those less familiar to us today.
Martin said one of the things she observed as she researched the book was how the relationship between the living and the deceased has changed over time.
"There was a lot of connection between the living and the dead, they wanted dead people near them, right in the middle of where everything was happening," she said. "They would maintain their family plots, bringing plants from home and arranging it according to their tastes."
This perspective was not unique to Chelsea. Early on, most Canadian settlements incorporated cemeteries into the heart of their communities but as many of them grew, plots in downtown areas were dug up and removed to the outskirts of town to make way for the living.
Martin is grateful this hasn't happened in Chelsea, and her book is a tribute of sorts to the knowledge and the historical legacy the preservation of these burial sites can impart to future generations.
To obtain a copy of Martin's book simply contact her by phone at 827-1633 or email email@example.com.