Congratulations to Alison Glass, the Find a Grave® featured volunteer of the month for December, 2022! Alison has a magnetic personality. Her excitement for projects, cemeteries, discoveries and research is infectious!
Alison was nominated by another Find a Grave volunteer who said, “Alison shines as ‘amazing Alison’- where she has helped many people not only learn about Find a Grave, but started them volunteering as well. She has helped families find each other virtually and enlightened others to the peacefulness of strolling through a cemetery and being surrounded by history; in admiration of those who gave their lives and connected everyone to a common interest.” (Linda)
Alison was born in North East England. She moved to Canada to take a position at the University, planning to stay for just six months but changed her mind and remained forever. She has been an Animal Technician, a wife and mother, and a bus driver for school children and St. Albert Transit. Just after her retirement in 2007, she was at a beach in Germany and noticed a bug bite. She came back to Canada and discovered that she was bitten by a tick carrying a bacterial strain which causes Lyme disease.
She learned that she needed less stress in her life and also “gentle exercise.” She and her daughter started research on her Uncle Ike’s family, which included gathering burial information. They placed the information on Rootsweb and that started the cemetery snowball.
“It started so innocently, with a simple email from someone I did not know. A young man in Ontario sent me a link to a page he had created on Findagrave.com, for someone very distantly related to Ike’s family who we had listed on our Family Tree, on Roots Web. I thanked Scott for taking the time to do this and a few days later another email with a link to another person on our tree. This went on for some time. I finally asked him why he took the time to keep on sending this type of information to me. His reply stunned me, “You are the only person who has thanked me for doing this!” This made me think that perhaps I should learn how to add information about my close family members who had lived in this area as a way of repaying him for his thoughtfulness, in taking the time and effort to provide me with information which I might otherwise never find, since Ontario is a very long walk from Alberta.
Most of my close family are still in England so I did not have many family members in the vicinity to add to the site. I thought I might as well add these few to Find a Grave. While I was in the cemetery taking photos of their markers, the thought struck me, why not photograph the markers around them and add those to the site too. A while later I realised that no one had entered the two cemeteries in St. Albert so I went to the St. Albert Catholic Cemetery as it was closest to home. I began entering information and photos, one section at a time, till I had photographed and entered the whole cemetery. Then I thought why not the whole section of Mount Pleasant Cemetery that my relatives are in. Of course the next step was to decide to photograph the whole cemetery, which happens to have more than 18,000 people interred there. What a mammoth undertaking, but with the help of a very good friend, Neila, who lives close by we got it done. Now no cemetery is too big for me to tackle, it might take several visits over an extended period of time but I will get it done.“
Alison has shown her dedication to finding graves by taking on special projects, many at the request of others. In 2010, she was contacted by a crime reporter who was interested in the family from a marker she had photographed. In some provinces, older vital statistics are not available online and headstones are a readily available source. As they talked, the reporter became more interested in her hobby of visiting cemeteries. Her story was later featured in the newspaper, which led to the next project.
Shortly after this article was released, “I received a phone call, and all I heard was “I am with the RCMP”! My heart skipped a beat as I wondered what I had done wrong. Then I heard the rest of what the caller had to say! I was not in trouble after all! The caller was Joe, a retired member of the force, and one of the people involved with attempting to locate the final resting place for each and every member of the NWMP and the RCMP. He asked if I could help by keeping my eyes open for markers with their logo or initials on them, as I photographed cemeteries I visit.” Alison has contributed over 500 headstone photos to this project. Locating and photographing their headstones is her way of honoring these fallen officers.
She told us about another time when she found a cemetery only because she saw the tip of the church steeple peeking out above the trees. She was traveling home from Smoky Lake. “When I got there I found the church boarded up and there was no sign of a name anywhere but behind it there was a small, well manicured cemetery. When I got home I entered the names of the folks buried in the churchyard, and then went looking for clues to the name of the church. Lo and behold, I found a query from someone wanting info about family with the same names as the ones I had recorded, and she named the church. Saint Anthony’s Cemetery, Warspite, Alberta. In early spring, 2015 a friend told me that this church has been demolished and is no longer there.”
Alison is always willing to go the extra mile for member requests. Once she “found a marker for a young lad that was almost completely hidden by a rose bush. The only thing showing was the toe end of the concrete slab defining his plot, I crawled under the bush and there was a flat marker showing he had passed away some 20+ years ago. I am guessing that someone planted a cute little rose bush, and that bush kept on growing un-hindered for all those years.”
One other project is locating the burial locations of all the first motormen who drove Edmonton streetcars. A few years back, a grandchild of one of these motormen contacted Alison about her grandfather’s grave, as she saw the photograph on Find a Grave. They became friends and connected with others regarding the streetcar (Edmonton 1) and her grandfather. To make a longer story short, some great-grandchildren rode the original streetcar that their great-grandfather drove in 1910. Here’s Alison on that streetcar too!
Alison makes a positive impact in others lives and makes new friends wherever she travels. She shared some of those experiences with us.
- A family in the Watrous Cemetery in Saskatchewan to whom I explained what my friends and I were doing in the cemetery and asked if it would be okay to photograph and enter their loved one’s marker onto Find a Grave. They were really pleased and made sure the marker had no grass trimmings on it before I took the photo.
- The lady sitting on a bench in Mount Pleasant Cemetery. She looked so sad that I went over and talked to her on my way out of the cemetery. Seems she had just lost her husband. She showed me his marker. When I explained that I could add his name onto a cemetery site on the computer. She was so excited, “Oh! that would be lovely, he will be remembered forever!”
- A Lady in Westlawn Cemetery, Edmonton who was tending a new marker. She asked that I not take a photo or enter the name on the marker on to Find a Grave. Her pain was too fresh. I kept my promise to her.
- The cemetery worker in Glenwood Cemetery, Edson who after watching me for more than an hour came over and asked where he should apply to get a job like mine. When I told him it was a volunteer ‘job’ he was amazed. He then answered my question about where I would find the “Old Edson” cemetery by offering to lead me there after he finished work. Without his help I would never have found it! No sign, fence, gate, just what looked like a deer track between the bushes off the side of a dirt road.
- The lady cleaning all the markers for her deceased family members who promised to tell the church minister that their cemetery would now be “online.”
- The two gentlemen who were installing a marker in the Tomahawk Cemetery who admitted they frequently got lost as they did not have a map of the area with cemeteries on it. That was the last cemetery on my list for that county so I gave them my map and suggested they acquire a county map for each county they go to.
“I find photographing cemeteries a great way to get exercise and have a reason for getting that exercise, as soon as the snow has almost all gone and the ground is starting to dry out I will be on the go and continue through the summer till either it gets too cold or too snowy or both. In the winter months, I get mental exercise from transcribing all the information from the markers and sending it to Find a Grave and from deciphering the inscriptions on the markers. It is not only a good mental “work out” but also rewarding when I manage to decipher an inscription that has baffled others. Thankfully I have a group of friends who are willing to verify for me that I have deciphered the inscription correctly.”
Alison, thank you for your kind and respectful nature and for connecting families through your work. We are appreciative of your efforts and the efforts of all Find a Grave volunteers. This work connects us as a community as we help one another and also allows people everywhere to discover information about those that have passed on.
Do you know a Find a Grave member who would make a good Volunteer of the Month? We welcome your suggestions. Please send an email with details of their work to email@example.com.
🎉 Congratulations, Alison! Merry Christmas and a happy, better New Year to you and us, all❣️
Congratulations Alison! I have been a follower of you for quite a number of years. I have always been so impressed by how many memorials you have entered; how quickly you agree to updates, especially to my family members and it has been greatly appreciated. I wish you health and happiness in 2023 and beyond. Merry Christmas 💞
Thank you Edie,
Hope you, your family and Friends have a great Christmas and a wonderful New Year
Merry Christmas, Alison. I read about your work on Find a Grave Volunteeer of the Month. Thank you for your kindness and hard work. I have used Find a Grave Website while searching family histories.
Thank you Carol. I hope you, your family and friends have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
Keep up your good work on Find a Grave.
Alison, We came together 4 years ago because I had found one grandfather’s name on Find a Grave, through Ancestry. Like the person in your testimonial above, whom you thanked, I did the same and this is how we linked up. Since then, you have located my other “lost” grandfather in the same cemetery, which led to all kinds of fascinating revelations and culminated in your connecting to my extended family in Edmonton and initiating them into the world of conductors and motorman of the first Edmonton Radial Railway! We have become long distance friends and I’m honored to know you. Thank you.
Thank you for your kind words. It has been quite the ‘adventure’ sifting through information to sort out family details., but between us we did it. Great team work!
The Arlington, Oklahoma IOOF Lodge cleaned the Arlington Cemetery & the Kellerby Cemetery in 1946 & they are still being taken care of!
The Arlington Oklahoma IOOF Lodge cleaned the Arlington & Kellerby Cemetery’s in 1946 & they are still being taken care of! I admire your work, keep it up!
Wonderful to read that after all these years the group is still looking after the cemetery, True dedication. Keep up your great work.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all.
Well done and very well deserved Alison! You truly are an inspiration to many and you are to be congratulated on everything that you do.
I really enjoy working with you to try and complete all the entries for Clayhall Naval Cemetery in Hampshire, UK https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/2254398/clayhall-naval-cemetery
Keep up the great work and lots of love and best wishes to you!
Thank you Steve,
Without people like you helping & supporting me I would not have been able to accomplish 1/2 of what I have done.
Hope you, your family and friends have a great Christmas and a happy & peaceful new year.
I live in Germany and would never have found anything in Canada without Alison’s help. She encouraged me to keep looking and stood up for me. This enabled me to complete the missing pieces of the puzzle in my genealogical research. Alison is a person who never gives up!
Supporting of people, who put their heart into it, is much more than just finding a grave. They give you the feeling of not being alone, they catch you and show you the way.
Dear Alison, thanks a lot for your great commitment!
Thank you for your kind words. I love doing research to help people find their relatives / ancestors. My ‘rule of thumb” is the further someone lives from Alberta, the harder I will work to help them find information, an you fit right in there.
meine liebe Lilli, ich wünsche dir ein wunderschönes Weihnachtsfest und hoffe, dass das neue Jahr außergewöhnlich wird!
Unzählige virtuelle Umarmungen kommen auf dich zu.
What a heartwarming article recapping your work! I have posted a couple of family headstones on Find a Grave. This is one site that I can go back to and find something that I had previously viewed. It is a wealth of information. I love seeing the headstones of my ancestors. It makes me feel a real connection to them. Thank you for the work that you are doing. Blessings to you!
Good morning Linda,
Thank you for your kind words.
I hope you have a Happy Christmas and wonderful New Year.
Well done! And well deserved recognition for the work you do. I am prettty sure there will be a connection to some of the graves I have documented on my tree and to which I also contribute on this wonderful service.
All the best and be safe!
Thank You Rick,
I have seen your name fairly frequently on edits etc :-))
Keep up the good work,
Hope you have a great Christmas and a happy new year
I am in awe of how much you have accomplished for Find a Grave! I have always felt our family and ancestors should never be forgotten. You have helped many people by doing what you do. I know I appreciate what people have helped me with in finding ancestors. I can see by your enthusiasm you find the need to keep doing this. Merry Christmas and hope you have a Blessed New Year.
Thank you for your kind words Marilyn. I really do enjoy all aspects of family history, the cemetery visits and photo taking, entering the information onto Find a Grave but the very best is hearing from people I do not know that I have helped them find ancestors. That is what keeps me doing what I do :-))
Wishing you, your friends and family a wonderful Christmas and New Year.
Wow, what can I say about Alison that hasn’t already been said?! Such an inspiration to us all. Thank you for being you, Alison! 🙂
Your messages are always an inspiration to me. With out the support and help from other members like you I could never have continued doing what I do for so many years.
Wishing you and all your family a wonderful year in 2023.
I love reading these and wish I could do it. But being ninty and hard to walk, I just use
We all use Find a Grave in different ways. I am fortunate that I was able to get out to cemeteries, however I know that one day soon I will have to slow down.
Sure hope that when I reach your age I will still be able to use the site:-))
Take care and keep well
What an amazing story. I appreciate all this lady does.
Thank you for your kind words.
Alison is a great supporter and educator of everyone in the Find a Grave community who encounters her. She does remarkable outreach work and is generous in sharing the skills she has learned.
Hi James, Thank you for your kind words. I am just doing what my mother said I should do – share, and she did not just mean physical things, but also knowledge. Not surprising since she used to be a teacher.
Thank you for the beautiful photos you add to the site, getting up before dawn to get the best light to take photos.You are amazing.
Thank you for your kind words.
It is always a pleasure hearing from you and seeing the beautiful photos you upload onto the site, especially photos for unmarked graves.
Congratulations, Alison, on this well-deserved recognition!
I love your story – what dedication. It appears that the Wilhelmina Cemetery near Hay Lakes is online thanks to your efforts – which included the memorials to my great-grandparents. Thanks for sharing your passion. H Smiley
Thank you for your kind words.
Wilhelmina Cemetery is a lovely peaceful spot. It was lovely to be able to visit and photograph the markers and the church there, and now that I know it has helped someone, you, that makes it even more special
Thank you for your kind words. As you know I love getting out and about and knowing that what I do helps others is what keeps me doing what I do.
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