Hall Cemetery, located on chemin Rockhurst, in the southern end of the village, takes its name from the Hall Family. George Hall originally acquired the cemetery land, as part of a larger 100 acre grant when he first arrived in Wakefield, by himself, in 1835. Struggling to find work in Ireland, George left his wife Jane Pritchard and their children to try his luck in Canada. He cleared the plot of land the cemetery now sits on and built himself a small wooden home. He intended to send money back to his family so they could eventually join him. Story goes, however, that Jane and her children managed to make their way to Quebec City before receiving any financial support or making formal arrangements with George for their travel.
Beyond the use of the site as a Cemetery, records hint that this location was also used as a gathering point for the local community in the 1800s. Norma Geggie found in her research of Presbyterian Church records that a fundraising event called the “Harvest Home Festival,” for the construction of the Rupert Church was held at “Hall’s Grove.” Geggie speculates that “Hall’s Grove” was a clearing above the cemetery suitable for picnics.
By the early 1960s, Hall Cemetery was in need of attention. Considerable brush had overgrown the site and a number of historic graves were cracked and falling apart. The United Church of Wakefield decided to take action. In 1961, a board, now named the Wakefield Cemetery Board, was founded and charged with the care and management of both the Hall and MacLaren Cemeteries.
When the Board was established, the deed for the Hall Cemetery was in possession of the McLinton brothers. As an early initiative, the Board accepted perpetual care of the McLinton Family Plot within the Cemetery in exchange for the deed along with an additional 50 feet of land surrounding the Cemetery for its eventual expansion.
On the Board’s behalf, the local Women’s association held an annual tea to encourage support for the cemeteries and to help fulfil the objective of maintaining both cemeteries. Later in the 1990s, the Board began holding an annual memorial service to increase the visibility of the cemeteries in the community and to raise funds for their continued care. The service has been held alternately between Hall and MacLaren Cemeteries and continues to an annual event to this day. The funds raised have been used to make repairs to historic gravesites; hire caretakers; improve fences and gardens. Much upkeep has also been carried out on a volunteer basis.
In addition to physical maintenance, the original mandate of the Wakefield Cemetery Board also called for documentation of both MacLaren and Hall Cemeteries. At the time of the Board’s establishment, there was no written record of either cemetery. Through the sponsorship of the Ontario Genealogical Society, the task of surveying the gravestones and speaking with residents was carried out by Cyril Payne and Patrick M.O. Evans. These two men produced a meticulous and thorough hand-written record of each gravestone; for example, their records included observations regarding incongruences in dates and most importantly, maps of both cemeteries, allowing graves to be more easily located. The map and record for Hall’s cemetery was ready for use in 1984.
Steps have been taken in recent years to communicate the history of early settlers to the general public. In the mid-1990s, the Board was approached by an independent committee headed by Ron Stevenson, Helen Rutledge, and Anita Rutledge. The committee proposed that bronze plaques mounted on fieldstones be installed at both Hall and MacLaren Cemeteries, listing the pioneer families linked to these historic sites.
An all-day event to celebrate the plaques unveiling was held on August 4th, 1997. Music was played and a service was conducted by Reverend Peter John Hobbs of Wakefield’s Church of the Good Shepherd. Over two hundred people who shared familial links with the pioneer families attended from across Canada and the United States.
Today, visitors to the Hall Cemetery can view the plaque and learn of the early families of Wakefield.
- “Anita Barber Rutledge”
- Cemetery Board Minutes. Wakefield, Quebec. 1961-2003.
- Ducharme, David. “The Day they buried Pearson at wakefield.” The News. 19 December, 1994. Newspaper clipping. GVHS Archives.
- Geggie, H.J.G. The Extra Mile: The Journals of H.J.G. Geggie, M.D., edited by Norma Geggie.
- Wakefield: Norma Geggie, 2007.
- Geggie, H.J.G. “The Telephone.” Up the Gatineau 12 (1986): 3-7.
- Geggie, Norma. A Place Apart: A Search for the Pioneer Cemeteries of the Lower Gatineau Valley. Quyon: Chelsey House Publications, 1999.
- Geggie, Norma. Wakefield and Its People Tours of the Village. Quyon: Chelsey House Publications, 1990.
- Evans, Patrick M.O. and Cyril Payne. “Hall’s Cemetery, Wakefield.” Recorded October, 1983. Ontario Genealogical Society, Report no. 85-3.
- Evans, Patrick M.O. “MacLaren Cemetery, Wakefield.” Recorded June, 1975.
- Hall Reid, Norma. “Footnote to History.” Up the Gatineau 8 (1982): 5.
- MacDonald, Joanne and Paul Gessel. “Malak Karsh in the Gatineau Hills.” Up the Gatineau 41 (2015): 59-67.
- Mahoney, Ernie. “Lester B. Pearson Grave to be refurbished.” West Quebec Post. 19 February, 1999. Newspaper clipping. GVHS Archives.
- McCormick, Nicole. “Valley Lives – Anita Rutledge.” The Low Down to Hull and Back News, 5 September, 2018.
- “Pair of plaques honor pioneers.” The News. 24 July, 1997. Newspaper clipping. GVHS Archives.
- Pearson, Landon. “Pearsons up the Gatineau.” Up the Gatineau 38 (2012): 1-13.
- Philips, Bob. “Archivist’s lifetime work honours the Outaouais.” GVHS.ca.
- Pioneer Monument Preservation Committee to Cemetery Board. Correspondence. Wakefield, Quebec. 20 January 1998.