Century-old vault revamped at Maple Ridge Cemetery

Seen in image above: The newly revamped 116-year-old vault located at the Maple Ridge Cemetery in Chesterville. Smith photo, Nation Valley News

Plans to put back into use as temporary storage for deceased

Kelsey Smith
Nation Valley News

MAPLE RIDGE — Making the old new again, Brian and Matt Harbers of Harbers Flame Centre and Masonry were hard at work last week putting the finishing touches on the reconstruction of the old vault at Maple Ridge Cemetery.

 

Last fall the cemetery’s board of directors decided that the 116-year-old vault needed a facelift.

Brian explained they had to “take it down piece-by-piece and put it back up.” The bricks had to fit so intricately that they numbered each block as they took it down. 

Seen in image above: Before and after views of the over century-old vault. Before photo courtesy of Matt Harbers, after photo taken by Smith, Nation Valley News

“It was leaning back big-time and now it is straight,” said Matt.

The vault stands approximately 14 feet high and spans about 25 feet wide.

The vault was used many years ago to store bodies during the winter months when the ground was too hard to dig.

Seen in image above: Brian and (left) Matt Harbers (right) reconstructed their first ever vault over the past two weeks. Smith photo, Nation Valley News

The cemetery has since been able to dig year-round so they have been using the vault for storage. They now plan to clear out the vault and make it available for the storage of corpses once again for other local cemeteries to use.

“We thought other graveyards may need the space,” said Jamie Shadbolt, manager of the cemetery.

Seen in image above: A shot of the vault over-looking the cemetery. The vault is located to the right of the cemetery’s main office. Smith photo, Nation Valley News

“It’s a nice building to keep in cemetery because it’s been here for so long,” he continued.

The structure was reconstructed with all of its original stone.

According to Matt, it was a “heavier job than normal. We don’t normally carry stone that heavy,” he explained.

The job took about two weeks to complete and was a rather shorter masonry job than usual. “Most jobs we spend about a month on, but the brick is much lighter,” Matt laughed.

They completed the job last Friday, June 1, shortly before noon.

As the work neared completion, Brian, a rather comical guy, joked, “The residents are pretty quiet here, they don’t bother us much!”

Although the job was quicker than the usual, the two-man team went through a whopping 14 batches of mortar just working on the front side of the building. Matt explained how they don’t usually go through that much because the modern-day blocks are straight and fairly flat, whereas the old original stones are very rigid and have deeper jagged edges to fill.

Shadbolt was thoroughly impressed with the job done by the Harbers men.

“They did a nice job, it was tipping back, and they really straightened it up,” boasted the manager of the cemetery.

He estimated that 9,000 people are buried at the graveyard encompassing both sides of County Rd. 43 at Maple Ridge.

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