Chinese Memorial Cairn

Chinese Memorial Cairn with general dedication

In 2008 the Quesnel Museum ‘s Chinese Heritage Committee erected a memorial cairn in Quesnel’s Pioneer Cemetery, dedicated to the Chinese pioneers buried there and in unmarked graves throughout the Cariboo.  The stonework of the cairn is symbolic of the miles of ditch lines built of hand piled rocks, constructed by Chinese miners during the Gold Rush.   It incorporates river rocks gathered from the gold bearing streams of the Wells, Barkerville and Stanley areas.

In 1912 a section of the Quesnel Pioneer Cemetery was set aside for Chinese burials.  Due to the loss of municipal cemetery records, it is difficult to know exactly how many Chinese pioneers are buried here.  There are only 10 headstones, but research has confirmed the identity of at least 36 Chinese individuals buried in the cemetery.  They are listed on a bronze plaque on one side of the cairn.

Memorial cairn bronze plaque with names of individuals

A Mosaic Grant from the Government of British Columbia enabled the committee to produce a brochure  with short biographies of all the individuals listed on the the cairn and a video of Elders from Quesnel’s Chinese community, recalling traditional burial customs as they had been taught them.  The pioneers memorialized on the cairn are brought to life through the anecdotes that they recall.  The brochure and dvd are available in the museum gift shop.   

 The Quesnel Pioneer Cemetery is located on Carson Ave, just behind the Museum. Individuals who passed away after 1952 are buried in the Chinese section of the new Municipal Cemetery, located on the old Prince George highway, north of Quesnel.