History walks among the headstones

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History came alive in Hillsdale Cemetery Saturday and it was a huge hit.

The Petrolia Heritage Committee organized the event which featured actors reenacting the family history of some of the community’s founding fathers.

Councilor Liz Welsh, who is on the committee, says nearly 400 people came out to hear the history among the headstones.

“We had nothing but positive comments,” says Welsh. “Some people said it was not what they expected. They expected the actors to just stand and talk. One person said it was one of the best things she ever attended.”

n hillsdale 1It wasn’t just history or people researching the family tree who came out; an instructor from Lambton College brought 20 students learning about death and dying to take “the stigma off of cemetery…as an education center.”

About $2,500 was raised during the event. Welsh says the money will be used to repair some of the aging historic headstones. Dave Menzies, director of community services, says the town is only able to spend interest from a trust at the cemetery for the work. Each year, they take inventory of what needs to be done and last year there was about $7,000 worth of repairs needed.

“This revenue will help tremendously,” says Menzies.

Welsh says the group is considering holding a walking tour again next year. “We hope to do it again but it takes a lot of volunteers,” she says, adding there are some people who have already offered to help again.