Nestled against the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains lies a beautiful little town called Pincher Creek. The town is about a two and a half hour drive from Sunset Memorial & Stone’s Calgary head office and so I hitched a ride to get some photos and video of the installation. I was eager to see the columbarium installed as I know, this is a much anticipated project for the town’s cemetery department.
About three years ago I was approached by a member of the cemetery committee with inquiries about the viability of a columbarium for their small town. This group was engaged and wanted to ensure that they were making the right decision for their town’s future cemetery operations. They planned the future columbarium garden site with attention to every detail: sidewalk width, wheelchair access, 2nd and 3rd phase columbarium placement as well as providing a location for benches and smaller family columbaria. The town sought the expertise of a landscape architect for advice on landscaping the future columbarium garden and set the stage for this special monument.
We had an early start from Calgary and left around 7:30. My last visit to the cemetery was a few summers ago. It was a warm summer’s day and Pincher Creek’s cemetery monuments were lovely set against the mountains off in the distance. I couldn’t wait to film Sunset’s first columbarium installation video against this beautiful backdrop. But as we approached the southern part of the province, the skies were not looking all that welcoming to the west.
When we arrived at Fairview Cemetery around 10:00 the weather was not really looking all that appealing. The mountain backdrop was masked by bleak grey cloud cover and the temperature was below normal for southern Alberta in October. But the crane soon arrived and quickly maneuvered into place close to the pathway.
The Town of Pincher Creek chose one of my favourite columbarium designs, The Estate Majestic. It is a six sided freestanding columbarium crowned with a grand granite dome. The column details add interest to the structure and they compliment the beautiful dome. This columbarium takes one back to the Age of Greek Revival, of architectural formality, a style that is very suited to cemetery settings, especially those cemeteries with historical monuments.
In order to safely lift this heavy structure from the truck bed, strapping is slipped through the centre core of the columbarium. This is a specialized component of all Sunset Estate designs that is specifically engineered to carry the massive weight of these granite structures.
We had a few visitors to the site as we were installing the columbarium. Cemetery management and staff swung by to approve the exact placement of the columbarium. After the placement was determined, then they headed back to work, to carry on with their busy day ahead.
Once the main structure location was set in position, the cornice was added. Then the final stage, the grand dome was hoisted into the air and carefully set on top.
By 11:30 the crane operator was packing up his rig and the columbarium installation was near completion.
Despite the numb fingers, the installation from beginning to end ran very smoothly. We delivered and installed the unit within hours with minimal disruption to the cemetery operations.
The only thing now that remains is the landscaping which will be developed in the spring of 2017. The parks departments has great plans for adding trees around the perimeter, pavers within the centre and flower beds and shrubs which will surround the sidewalk borders. Cemetery management and town council will be reviewing their existing cemetery bylaws to add additional regulations that support the cemetery operations and The Town of Pincher Creek’s future columbarium garden.
I look forward to returning to Pincher Creek next summer to take some more photos of The Estate Majestic against that beautiful mountain view backdrop.
Watch for an update on this blog next summer!