M.A. Theses: Lindsay J. Oliver, 1992

The Golden Pioneer Cemetery: Health and Mortuary Practises of the Early Pioneers 1882-1894 Archaeological Site EhQf-3

Archaeological Site EhQf-3, a pioneer cemetery in use from ca 1882-1894, is located in Golden, British Columbia. In 1986, vandalism of a grave led to excavation and analysis of the cemetery population, with ultimate reburial in the community. Archival sources indicate rapid development of Golden commencing in 1882 in association with development of the Canadian Pacific Railway.

Fifteen graves yielded a total of thirteen individuals with an age range of premature to old age, and both sexes are present with a ratio of four adult males to each adult female. The violent and dangerous aspects of the founding years are reflected in several sharp-instrument injuries, and by deaths caused by gunshot wounds, mid-thoracic crushing and from a blow to the head.

Dental analysis reveals a high incidence of carious lesions, several examples of hypoplastic enamel defects, calculus build-up for most adults, and several cases of active apical abscesses. Tooth wear is directly related to age and a single example of dental intervention was noted.

Surface and subsurface features of the burials reflect the prevailing trends in mortuary practises of the late 19th century with rows of graves running north-south with the remains oriented east-west. Surface markings include wooden fencing and nameboards, oval rock formations, and a cairn with the only imported feature being a marble headstone from Grave 2. Most individuals were place with the head to the west. Subsurface features include tapered and rectangular coffins, mass-produced coffins and coffin hardware, and coffin-boxes.

Neither inter-coffin variation nor grave goods proved useful in determining socio-economic status of the individual since additional factors affect availability in rural communities.