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UPDATE: Big news on the way from 'little historian'

Published on July 2, 2016
Sara Lauzon says a memorial will be erected this summer for House of Refuge inmates.

CORNWALL, Ontario - Cornwall's Little Historian has unveiled some big news.

Sara Lauzon said Thursday she has not only raised the $5,000 necessary to erect a permanent memorial for the remains of as many as 29 people that died decades ago at what was once the House of Refuge...but also that the memorial will be in place July 23 at St. Lawrence Valley Cemetery.

"Definitely this summer," gushed Lauzon, who spent the better part of a year providing walking tours, holding rain-soaked yard sales and a host of other events to raise the money for the memorial.

"I'm really excited for this," said Lauzon, who has made it her passion to tell the stories of the more than 900 inmates at the House of Refuge, that was once located on Eleventh Street. The property now houses a long-term care facility. "I'm so thankful for the community for having my back."

In the early part of the 20th Century officials at the House of Refuge would often bury the bodies of deceased inmates on the property. The House of Refuge was known as a place for the less fortunate.

In 1985 when nearby homes were being built as many as 29 bodies from the property were removed and interred at St. Lawrence Valley Cemetery, west of Long Sault.

The Kaneb Family purchased the plots at the cemetery. Recently city council authorized the mayor and clerk to sign documentation to allow for the creation of the memorial, and Lauzon said the Kanebs are also providing their consent to the plan.

"Everyone is on board with this," she said.

Brunet Monuments in Cornwall has been retained to create the memorial, which will likely measure three feet by 1.5 feet and will contain a message concerning the House of Refuge and its inmates.

There is no tombstone marking the new graves at the cemetery - something Lauzon has worked to change.

"This broke my heart," said Lauzon. "Since the beginning of my research with this facility, I have known that bodies were uncovered from the property on two occasions."

She confirmed that information last year when she visited the cemetery and pored over their records.

The remains were reburied in a western section of the cemetery, near the St. Lawrence River, said Lauzon.

- With TC Media files.