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Oregon Main Street Highlight: Canby

June 14, 2017

This post is part of a series celebrating Oregon Main Street’s ten years of downtown revitalization. Throughout the year we will be highlighting some of our Main Street network communities and the great work they are doing. You can learn more about Oregon Main Street here. Main Street efforts in Canby are being carried out by the City of Canby and here is a snapshot into the work they are doing.

Canby Main Street – a program of the City of Canby – serves as the liaison to the city’s Historic Review Board. As the staff liaison, the Main Street program leverages its funding to complete programs and projects that are unique to Canby’s history.

On May 5, 2017, the City of Canby’s Historic Review Board hosted “Re-discovering Canby’s Roots: Baker Prairie Cemetery”. The re-dedication event celebrated the completion of Phase One of the repair and cleaning of Baker Prairie Cemetery, and to kick-off Phase Two. It was held in conjunction with Canby Main Street’s May First Friday event.

BPC Program_Page_1In April 2016 the City of Canby’s Historic Review Board applied for and received a $6,200 grant from the Oregon Commission on Historic Cemeteries (OCHC) to pay for Phase One of the Baker Prairie Cemetery Rehabilitation Project. The catalyst for the project was a phone call from Jeanine Kersey, the great-great granddaughter of Philander Lee, who is buried in Baker Prairie Cemetery. In addition to regularly visiting her ancestors, she has participated in efforts to maintain the grounds and the markers since 1949.

In October that work was completed. Twenty-six broken or tilted markers were repaired and/or reset. Another 30 markers were cleaned using products and tools that remove moss and dirt but do not harm the stones or the environment. Volunteers from local non-profits, engaged citizens, descendants of those buried at Baker Prairie Cemetery, and Historic Review Board members came together to learn the proper techniques for cleaning the headstones.

Baker Prairie Cemetery has been featured as one of ten sites listed in the City of Canby’s first heritage trail, “Exploring Community Connections: The Downtown Canby Heritage Trail,” a self-guided walking tour. Baker Prairie Cemetery was established in 1863 after J. Wesley Joslyn sold one-acre of his 1852 Donation Land Claim to the community for $1.00. Out of 131 gravesites, 86 individuals died before 1900. Members of many of the first families who settled in and around Canby are buried in Baker Prairie including Lees, Knights, Macks, Waits, Parrotts, Mays, and Joslyns.

The Historic Review Board invited descendants of those buried at Baker Prairie. Per Jamie Stickel, the Canby Main Street Manager and staff liaison to the Historic Review Board, “as Canby continues to grow, it’s important for us to look back and honor Canby’s unique history and the people who created this town. I look forward to continuing the work we have started.”

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