The mystery of the discarded tombstone in St. Francois Xavier has been partially solved, thanks to the investigative skills of municipal CAO Robert Poirier.
The grave marker was discovered by a municipal staff member at the SFX nuisance grounds last September. Approximately one- by two-feet in size, the stone bears the inscription:
Can. Engrs. C.E.F.
7 Sept. 1955 Age 71
A local resident discovered the stone at Delta Beach about 12 years ago, then stored it until he decided to clean up his property and dropped the stone at the dump.
Poirier was able to find the First World War veteran’s military sign-up papers and a copy of his obituary and passed them on to the SFX Historical Society.
According to James’ obituary, he came to Canada in 1910, settled at Rosser and then moved to Gilbert Plains in 1925. Conscripted as ‘Fred James’, he served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force — a field force created for overseas service in the First World War — from 1914 to 1918. ‘Sappers’ were field engineers.
James was buried in Eldon cemetery, and no one knows how his marker ended up at Delta Beach.
"The stone managed to travel 180 miles," Historical Society president Keven Van Camp said.
Van Camp said he is familiar with the Gilbert Plains area and plans to return the marker to Eldon cemetery in the summer.