Author Ian Brown wants to give life to some of the 300 people buried in Yale’ Pioneer Cemetery.
His new book Hallowed Ground retells the life of the earlier pioneers of British Columbia. In doing so, his book also retraces the history of Yale in its heyday from the day of the cemetary’s establishment in 1858 through the 20th century.
This meant highlighting the experiences of the Elley brothers, where three out of at least eight of them died of scarlet fever when an epidemic hit Yale in the 1880s, or the 100-year lifetime of Ned Stout, who lived through the 1858 gold rush and the 1880 construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway. It also included tidbits such as the tale of Dr. Maximilian Fifer, whose patient murdered him in 1861 because he felt the doctor mistreated him.
Brown’s motivation in writing the book comes from an interest in the area. Brown lives in Abbotsford now, but grew up in Hope and has connections to Yale through his grandparents, Lloyd and Dorothy. His grandparents have lived there for over 40 years and founded the Yale and District Historical Society in the ’60s.
“Six, seven years ago I decided I wanted to get involved somehow up there,” said Brown.
Brown said he did not like the idea of attending meetings, but still wanted to contribute. He came up with the idea of writing a book which visitors to the cemetery can use as a reference when walking through it.
“There’s people buried up there that you’d never hear anything about them,” said Brown. “There’s people from all over the world buried up there.”
His methodology to uncover the stories included trips to the B.C. Archives in Victoria at least three times to scan copies of Yale’s Inland Sentinel newspaper, the Vancouver Public Library and the Anglican archives in Vancouver for the ledgers of the church in Yale.
To fit this project within his work schedules, Brown would write in the evenings and on weekends, pausing for several months to do research.
The book will be available at the end of the month from the FriesenPress’s website in both hard and digital copies, Amazon, at the Hope Visitor Centre, Barry’s Trading Post in Yale. It will cost $25 for the paperback and $35 for a hardcover. Costs for a digital copy is unknown. All proceeds go to the Yale and District Historical Society.