Ghost town soldiers’ graves not forgotten

No Stone Left Alone 2019

Junior Canadian Ranger Maison Meer-Crossen of the Telkwa Junior Canadian Ranger Patrol takes a moment to read the gravestone of a First World War soldier. Read the full story on page 2.
Photo by Lieutenant Natasha Tersigni, 4th Canadian Ranger Patrol Group Public Affairs Officer

Lieutenant Natasha Tersigni, 4th Canadian Ranger Patrol Group Public Affairs Officer

For the fourth year in a row, a No Stone Left Alone Remembrance Ceremony was held in Anyox, B.C., on Oct. 5, to ensure soldiers from the First World War buried in the now-abandoned town are not forgotten.

Organized by the Stewart Canadian Ranger Patrol, 11 Junior Canadian Rangers from the Stewart and Telwka Junior Canadian Ranger Patrols, along with local Canadian Rangers, travelled by helicopter to Anyox for the event.

“After arriving in Anyox, located 60 kilometers southwest of Stewart, B.C., on the Observatory Inlet, the JCRs and Canadian Rangers hiked into the forest where the cemetery is located,” said Commander Sergeant Eric Drew, Stewart Canadian Ranger Patrol. “The Stewart Canadian Ranger Patrol came into this area five years ago for a patrol exercise. We knew the cemetery was here, so we conducted ground searches as part of our training and we were able to locate it. We have been coming back here ever since with our first NSLA event being held in 2016 with youth from the community and local JCRs. It is important for the youth of today to recognize and remember the sacrifices of the soldiers from the past.”

In 1914, Anyox was a booming mining town that had over 3,000 residents thanks to the Granby Consolidated Mining, Smelting and Power Company. Men that joined the Canadian Armed Forces and went overseas to fight in the First World War were guaranteed their job back at the mining company upon their return. The Granby Company also honoured soldiers from Anyox who served by providing them with gravesites at the cemetery, complete with military recognition.

By 1935, the Great Depression had forced the shutdown of the mine and the town residents left. Forest fires in 1943 and 1944 destroyed the remaining structures in the town. Today, Anyox is known as an abandoned ghost town and is uninhabited with no rail or road links to the rest of British Columbia.

Before the NSLA service was held on Oct. 5, JCRs spent time cleaning the 15 gravesites of soldiers that served in the First World War.

“What is unique is Granby Mining Company made a promise to veterans they would receive a proper burial and they didn’t forget about them when they came home from the war. What we are doing here is not forgetting about them either, or forgetting about the other veterans from across Canada,” said Captain Dave Coish, 4th Canadian Ranger Patrol Group, British Columbia Company Officer in Command, during the service. “No Stone Left Alone makes sure graves of Canadian soldiers are not forgotten and are taking care of.”

The No Stone Left Alone initiative is a national event that works to educate Canadian youth on the sacrifices made by Canadian soldiers. It is typically held the week before Remembrance Day. Youth place a poppy on a military headstone in numerous Canadian towns and cities to honour and recognize the sacrifices Canadian men and women made while serving in the Canadian Armed Forces.

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