Grave Dowser May Provide Answers

by Jeff Helsdon

By Jeff Helsdon  Staff Writer Tillsonburg News  2011

…Estherville Cemetery mystery continues

Bayham is turning to noted grave dowser Mae Leonard for direction in finding gravesites outside the current boundaries of Estherville Cemetery.

At an earlier meeting, Councillor Mark Taylor said that the present Glen Erie Line might not have been the traditional location of the road and there could be graves under the roadbed. He suggested an archeological assessment of the roadbed. Investigation of the property under the Boundaries Act was another possibility discussed.

Wanda Hoshal, who has been leading efforts of area residents that have relatives in the cemetery, appeared before council at its last meeting asking that Mae Leonard be allowed to grave dowse the roadbed and the Boundaries Act be used.

Referring to a newspaper article Hoshal distributed saying Norfolk County designated land based on Leonard’s findings, Acre said the property in that case was not sold or developed.

Hoshal said if it hadn’t been for the efforts of the Norfolk Genealogical Society, the area wouldn’t have been declared a graveyard.

“It takes several years and constant pressure to get the (cemeteries) unit to do their job,” she said.

Hoshal encouraged council to use the boundaries act to investigate where the boundaries were.

“We need to know the size of the cemetery and the only way to do that is to dig,” she said. “Dig up the road and dig up the history.”

Bayham administrator Kyle Kruger said he has made inquiries with the Boundaries Act but hasn’t heard anything back yet.
Taylor agreed that the boundaries would provide answers.

“Regardless of the costs, the only way we’ll know the answer is to go ahead and investigate the boundaries,” he said. “It’s an inherited problem, but like a hole in the road, we’ll deal with in the following year’s budget.”

Councillor Ed Ketchabaw said the issue has been going on 40 years and he would like more information what’s involved with a boundary investigation before moving forward.

Coun. Wayne Casier agreed with Taylor, but like Ketchabaw wanted more information.

Later in the meeting when Kruger presented his report – which suggested a licensed archeologist be employed for an investigation – council agreed to wait for any excavation until the boundaries were defined. In the meantime, Taylor suggested Leonard – who offered her services at no charge – be contacted to grave dowse the roadbed. Council approved that suggestion.