Restoring sacred space
The process of restoring headstones comprises many steps. (photos from J.B. Newall Memorials Ltd.)
Last month, the restored Jewish section of Mountain View Cemetery was rededicated in a public ceremony that was the culmination of three years of work undertaken by a group of volunteers headed by Shirley Barnett and others. Among the contributors to the project was J.B. Newall Memorials Ltd.
“The restoration project in the Jewish section at Mountain View Cemetery was a very special project for us,” Meghan Newall told the Independent in an email. “Knowing that many of these pieces were designed and created by the Newall family over the past decades gave us a sense of honor and pride to be able to work on them once again. A great deal of work went into the cleaning, restoring and re-stabilizing of the markers and monuments, as each piece is unique and required a number of different methods and procedures (and patience!).”
Newall’s great-grandfather, John Brodie Newall, established J.B. Newall Memorials in 1909.
Described as “an accomplished poet, scholar and master mason,” on the company’s website, the history reads that he “parted with his family in 1905 from the town of Dalbeattie, Scotland. He left his brother David the family business – a granite quarry and monumental works company that gave birth to the town of Dalbeattie in 1820 – which continues to produce today.”
Shared his great-granddaughter, “We are (unfortunately) unsure why he decided to leave the granite business in Scotland to start over in Vancouver but are happy he did!”
She added, “I recently had the opportunity to visit the town in Scotland where our family started out and even saw one of the original quarries that is still in operation today, though it is now a sand and gravel quarry operated by a different company.”
Eventually, her great-grandfather arrived in Vancouver. “He set up shop here, at our current location in 1909, where his son Nathan Newall continued the tradition,” explained Meghan.
Grandson Alan, his wife Rosemarie and their children, Meghan and her brother Brodie, “continue to create memories out of stone,” said Meghan. “Our works can be seen throughout British Columbia cemeteries as well as civic projects throughout the city.”