Spirit Walk brings stories to life

The Dryden Genealogical Society hosted their thirteenth annual Spirit Walk at the Dryden Cemetery last week with two separate nights that were both well attended.

The Dryden Cemetary was busy last week for two nights of stories hosted by the Dryden Genealogical Society. Photo by Michael Christianson

Around 50 people came out on the Tuesday evening and close to 30 were in attendance on Thursday. The annual event is a chance for the Genealogical Society to branch out and share some interesting stories with the public.

“We thought instead of just talking about our own families it would be nice to share some of the information about the people that are buried here, there are about 4900 people buried in the Dryden cemetery so we’ve done all together over the last 13 years maybe up to 200 stories so there’s a bout 4700 more stories to do,” said Genealogical Society President Will Vermeer.

This year featured nine unique stories of people in Dryden’s past, in some cases not so distant past. This year’s walk went to the gravesites of: Clayton Wagner, George O. Keatley, William Dawson Fisher, Barbara “Winkie” Stewart, Minnie Durance, Ernest Gordon “Duke” MacDonald, Thomas Ben Savinac, Stella Hutchinson and Mossie Johnston.

Some of the stories, such as those of Wagar and Keatley, spoke about serving Canada during the two great wars.

Wagar served in the Second World War. Joining the artillery corps in Winnipeg in 1942 Clayton started the basic training for the war going on in Europe. After a short time in training the troops went from Winnipeg by train down to Petawaw for the main training before being sent overseas to Europe.

He spent 18 months of wartime in Italy and hated every minute of it. Due to work shortage Clayton decided to make a career of army life and rejoined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1950 in Kingston. He was in the Royal Canadian Signals as Radio Operator, Teletype, and Cryptographer in communications spending time in Egypt and the Gaza Strip in 1962/63 as part of the peace keeping forces. He retired from army life in 1965.

Many fascinating stories were shared over the two nights of spirit walks including stories from those in attendance who remembered some of the names.

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