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May. 22, 2022 | Sunday
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Condition of Butler's Burial Ground 'a disgrace,' council told
Butler's Burial Ground, located at the west end of Butler Street, is the resting place to more than 30 people.(Dariya Baiguzhiyeva/Niagara Now)

Butler's Burial Ground is rapidly deteriorating and if something is not done soon the site will be lost, some concerned residents say.

Bill Hamilton and Shirley Stark, who provide ghost tours in Old Town, addressed town council Monday night saying they're worried about the site's condition.

The cemetery, located at the west end of Butler Street, is a resting place of Lt.-Col. John Butler, one of the founders of Upper Canada. Butler played a major role in local history and there are several places in town – from a hotel to a sports bar – that were named after him.

“Unfortunately, its current condition is another disgrace to this man, to his family, other people buried here, our visitors and the town,” Hamilton said at a committee of the whole meeting.

The site is owned by Parks Canada. As the current owners cannot preserve or maintain the property, asking the town for help was the only option, Hamilton told councillors.

There also needs to be a memorial, such as a cairn, to commemorate the more than 30 people buried on the site, he added.

Since Niagara Parks, which owned the site at the time, created new stones for the cemetery in 1967, Hamilton said he's not aware of any other restoration projects in the more than 50 years since.

He asked for the town’s support and endorsement in campaigning for site preservation and also suggested the Willowbank School of Restoration Arts and the Niagara Parks Commission School of Horticulture look into starting restoration projects on the site.

“I can’t emphasize enough. This is the guy who founded this town. I’m proud of it,” Hamilton said. “I don’t want to see that lost, I really don’t.”

Hamilton and Stark brought Parks Canada's attention to the issue at an open house held by the federal agency in July 2018. Since then, the cemetery’s condition has worsened, Stark said.

“We’re going to lose stones and the stones are disappearing into the ground,” she said. “We keep trying to bring this to someone’s attention who can actually do something.”

Lord Mayor Betty Disero said the issue is important enough to form a committee, including herself, acting chief administrator Sheldon Randall and the town’s manager of parks and recreation, Kevin Turcotte, to start discussions with different community partners such as the Nature Conservancy of Canada, Parks Canada, Willowbank School and the Commission School of Horticulture on how to preserve the site.

Councillors passed Disero’s motion to establish the committee.