Postcard: Lake Huron's shipwreck graveyard | WBEZ
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Postcard: Shipwreck graveyard

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The Inverhuron Cemetery is a small pioneer cemetery dating back to the 1800s.

It sits nestled in the aged trees in what is now a Provincial Park along the Canadian Coast of Lake Huron. It was once a town, until a fire in 1887 burnt every building to the ground. One of the only surviving elements is the cemetery. In the middle of the cemetery is a 200-year-old maple tree, surrounded by gravestones that have worn smooth over time.

Adrienne Mason used to lead tours of the cemetery. She would sing songs, answer questions and tell stories. The tale she says garnered the most interest was the story of the unknown sailor from 1880.

“His body was found washed up on shore,” Adrienne explained. “Along with a mason jar, or preserving jar containing a gold captain’s watch, and on that watch it said ‘to my wife’. But, no one ever learned of the sailor’s identity… so it’s kind of a mystery.”

Most people buried in the cemetery are a mystery. There are about 80 tombstones, but they estimate that almost 700 people are buried in about a hectare of land, mostly in unmarked graves. 

“Most of the markings for the graves were actually made of wood, and unfortunately have decomposed,” Adrienne said.

More than one of the people buried in the Inverhuron Cemetery died on the waters.

The water was so integral to the lifestyle in the 1800s, the back roads were often impassable and everything was shipped into the port.

But, Adrienne says around here it’s known that the mighty Lake Huron can turn on you faster than you’d think.“The weather can at one point seem perfect. Blue sky and 30 degrees, and all of a sudden a clouds rolls across the horizon. And all of a sudden the lake becomes so destructive and frightening,” she said.

Adrienne tells the story of a captain who sank to the bottom of the lake with a brand new pair of boots around his neck, she explains how a woman once washed ashore in a current  from the other side of Lake Huron.

“I think that having the cemetery here is a testament to that period of history, the stones themselves have stories to tell. You can feel the stories when you walk through the trails, walk through the forest,” Adrienne said. “It sets your imagine ablaze when you know you’re standing in the place where those stories took place.”

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