Bones from N.S. cemetery being washed out to sea

Human bones are exposed along the coast of Cape Breton Island due to erosion at coastal cemetery in...

Human bones are exposed along the coast of Cape Breton Island due to erosion at coastal cemetery in this undated handout photo. The oldest grave, which has been moved back three times, is from 1878. Handout/QMI Agency

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:20 PM ET

Bones in a cemetery on the coast of Cape Breton Island are being unearthed due to erosion and the caretaker says there is little he can do to protect the graves.

This year is particularly bad due to a lot of rain and run-off, Hector Murphy said in an interview Tuesday from his home in Ingonish, N.S.

"It happens every spring. The spring is the worst time, but it can happen any time," he said.

He said he learned about the recent erosion on Friday and between Monday and Tuesday, he had already seen changes in the cemetery as more bones were unearthed.

With more rain expected this week, Murphy expects the situation to only worsen.

The oldest grave has been moved back three times, about 30 to 40 feet each time, and dates from 1878, he said. The graves may be from people who died in a shipwreck or a plague, although records for the graves were destroyed in a church fire.

The United Church of Canada owns the property, but Rev. Margaret Wood told CTV that while the local congregation has a small cemetery trust fund, it doesn't cover erosion.

Murphy said he has been trying to get funding to put armour stones along the edge of the cliff to prevent the bones from going over and into the ocean, but so far has only received a commitment from their municipal government. That funding will only come through if the provincial and federal government also help out.


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