(from the Shawnigan Focus , October 2021)
Excerpt from the Community Crier, September 1981
On January 12, 1948, representatives from the Malahat Board of Trade, the Women’s Institute, the Canadian Legion Women’s Auxiliary, the United Church and the Rev. E.M. Willis met to discuss the need for a community cemetery. At later meetings, the P.T.A and the Anglican Church were also represented. From this first meeting, chaired by H.E. Hawking, action was started that resulted in the incorporation, in Au- gust 1950, of the Shawnigan Lake Cemetery Board.
The Board bought the present site from Mrs. Galland and did all the rough clearing and most of the slash clearing and burning. However, public interest was not maintained long enough to complete the job. It had also become increasingly difficult for an unorganized community to satisfy all the regulations of the Public Utilities Commission, while some of these regulations are automatically fulfilled by a church.
Consequently, in 1961, the Cemetery Board was dissolved, and the site was turned over to the Shawnigan Lake United Church with the understanding that, although run by the United Church, the cemetery would be community in nature. From 1961to 1969 the cemetery was known as the Shawnigan United Cemetery. As this was considered misleading, the name was changed in 1969 to the Shawnigan Cemetery, its present title.
Excerpts from an article about the cemetery, written by Reg Blackmore, from the August 2011 issue of Shawnigan Focus
Since 1999, the Shawnigan Cemetery has been maintained year round on a weekly basis as a service club project by the Malahat Lions Club.
Since the Malahat Club’s participation, great visual and esthetic strides have been made to provide a degree of comfort for the families of those who rest there and provide an equal degree of satisfaction to neighbouring properties.
The Mill Bay Lions Club and the South Cowichan Rotary have also contributed equipment and comfort items.
A Memorial Garden was established and grows contentedly from year to year. Tables, benches and other items of personal comfort for mourners and visitors alike have been placed.
An octagonal gazebo was added to shelter mourners and visitors on days throughout the year where weather is not one’s best friend. This was supported by donations of material and funding from many local sources.
The property has also been enhanced with the planting of ornamental trees, hopefully strategically located, together with the total landscaping of the frontage on Munsie Road including excavation and subsequent placement of landscape ties and yards of wood chips.
Ornamental cedars and holly shrubs/trees, daffodil bulbs etc., have been planted and a salt lick block was installed to help deter the deer from eating up the ornamentals!
During the tragic loss of a family member, the goal is to make the property an attractive place of serenity and comfort to those who survive such a loss and encourage them to come back and visit. This theme is already exhibited throughout the year by the constant placement of tributes to those interred–even Christmas will see a display of Wreaths.
I would close by mentioning the generous, visually commanding, appearance of the cemetery gates donated by Gavin McArthur in honour and memory of his parents who are interred here, in Shawnigan Cemetery.
As a non-denominational cemetery, one day the cemetery will house a lot of the pioneer history of what is currently Shawnigan Lake.