Old Cemeteries Society member Sherry Deptuch helps clean Const. Daniel Mainguy’s gravestone at All Saints’ Cemetery for Police National Memorial Day. (Submitted photo)

Old Cemeteries Society members honour Police National Memorial Day in Cowichan

Mainguy’s 114-year-old white marble tablet had become blackened and encrusted with dirt

Local members of the Old Cemeteries Society observed Police National Memorial Day on Sunday, Sept. 27, by cleaning the gravestone of Daniel Wishart Mainguy (1842-1906) in historic All Saints’ Cemetery in Westholme.

Mainguy, who was one of the first English settlers in the Chemainus district, arrived in 1863 and was a farmer and the area’s first police constable during the colonial period. He was a memorable local character and an important and well-respected figure in the community of the time.

Said OCS member Mike Bieling, “While documenting Cowichan’s Veterans’ Remembrance Cross placements, I’ve collected burial information for a number of NWMP, RCMP and other police veterans, who are included in that commemoration. For several years, I’ve thought about doing something to observe the day specifically set aside to remember them — Police National Memorial Day — on the last Sunday of September. COVID-19 and other issues made this a bad year for getting any new traditions off the ground, so since the day was dry and pleasant, we decided to spend a few hours at All Saints’ and, with the family’s permission, pay our respects by cleaning Const. Daniel Mainguy’s gravestone, which badly needed it.”

“Mainguy’s 114-year-old white marble tablet had become blackened and encrusted with dirt, black mildew and green algae, with moss growing at its base and on the concrete surface of the family plot. We applied an architectural cleaner that acts as both an immediate remover of dirt and mildew, and, in combination with sunlight and weather, a long-term whitener. It’s recommended by professionals for being highly effective without damaging stone surfaces the way soaps and harsh chemicals can. We’ll watch it over the next few months to see how much more of the green algae staining it removes, and just how white the stone becomes.”

“While we were at it, we also did a quick bit of moss removal and clean-up of the rest of the Mainguy family plot, which includes the monument to Daniel’s well-known son, Vice Admiral E. Rollo Mainguy, ahead of the Remembrance Day cross placements. I hope that in future years, circumstances may allow us to introduce a small local commemoration for Police National Memorial Day, but as members of the Old Cemeteries Society, we’re pleased to have had this opportunity this year to help preserve the memory of one of the Cowichan Valley’s first representatives of the law.”

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