Sunday signage

Cemetery in New Horton, New Brunswick, somewhere between Cape Enrage and Alma.

After driving by this cemetery the day before on our way to Cape Enrage, I had to stop when we saw it again (coincidentally on our way to Cape Enrage again).  Who names a cemetery the “Ha Ha Cemetery?”  And what do they mean by that?  Are they laughing at death?  Was there something funny about the way the people in the cemetery died?  If you Google the Ha Ha Cemetery, you’ll find that many people before me have stopped to take photos and contemplate the meaning of Ha Ha.

This sign outside of the cemetery explains all.  “Ha Ha” is applied to the cemetery, a small bay, a creek, and a lake in New Horton, New Brunswick.  According to the sign pictured above, there is a legend that the Indians took the name “ha ha” from the sound of the loons.  There is a small island in the center of the lake called Loon Island, and on a quiet summer morning you can hear the calls of the loons nearby.  John Smith, by the way, the “founder and first representative of New Albert County,” is buried in the Ha Ha Cemetery along with two of his three wives.

Let’s put aside legends and the story from the sign at the cemetery for just a minute or two.  Wikipedia defines a Ha-ha as a term in garden design that refers to a trench, an unexpected obstacle, or an abruptly ending path.  You can read the entire entry here.  The part I find particularly interesting is this:

In its modern form, the concept and term are of French origin, with the term being attested in toponyms in New France from 1686 (as seen in modern times in Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha!) and being a feature of the gardens of the Château de Meudon, circa 1700.

The colony of New France was located in the Canadian Maritimes, including Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick.  The Acadians (the French colonists of New France) used trenches and dykes to drain the water from the marshlands in the coastal regions of the Bay of Fundy in order to farm those lands.  No easy fete, that’s for sure.  The salinity of the dried out marshlands was such that they had to leave the land barren for at least three years before they could grow crops there.  After about 80 years of living and farming the area, the Acadians were expelled by the British during the French and Indian War.  Many relocated to Louisiana (and are called Cajuns).  That must have been quite a change in climate for them.

I’m not saying that “ha ha” comes from the gardening term.  It’s likely I’m wrong.  My blog friends from New Brunswick, PEI, and Nova Scotia might want to weigh in on this as this trip involved a lot of new history lessons for me.  I came home with a little knowledge which, as we all know, is a dangerous thing (and often so incomplete as to lead to wrong conclusions).  Whatever the source of the name, it does make for an interesting sign, especially in a cemetery.

John Smith’s grave

The Ha Ha Cemetery is a small one with a nice view of the marshland.  It was peaceful there, but then I find that to be true of most cemeteries.

It’s been a busy weekend, mostly involving food.  I went to the farmers market for the first time this season.  The drive over was on back roads through some beautiful scenery.  The interesting thing is that I keep thinking it’s mid- to late July.  Along the roads the orange of the daylilies line one side and the blue of the chicory line the other.  I need to get out there on my bike and take some photos.  It really is quite beautiful.

In the wildflower meadow

Here at Breezy Acres, all sorts of things are in bloom.  The purple coneflowers, daisies, black-eyed susans, and other flowers (that’s the category of unidentified by me flowers) are blooming.  Everything is several weeks ahead of time.  That includes the locally grown foods at the farmers market.

Another meadow shot. Processed in FotoSketcher.

I came home with lettuces, beets with the lovely greens still attached, green onions, radishes, new potatoes, cilantro, and more.  I suspect our CSA will be starting to put together boxes of stuff soon.

That’s about it from the Bogs (and the Ha Ha Cemetery) for today.  Thanks for stopping by.  I hope your weekend has been filled with wonder and joy.  Or at least a little (ha! ha!) laughter.

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44 Comments on “Sunday signage”

  1. Dana says:

    Peculiar sign indeed. I admire your commitment to digging for the meaning of it, though. I probably would have just snapped the photo and called it a day. :)

  2. anhinga says:

    That is so funny. Ha Ha The old stones are so picturesque. Thanks for posting and explaining.

  3. Marianne says:

    Wow! I’d say John Smith is a peculiar name as well. And three wives at that. I image the stories held within. Great detective work, Robin. Very interesting!

  4. Denise says:

    Great post and a very enjoyable read. Loved all the photos, especially the one of the dragonfly. I have never seen one like him before. Have a great week ahead.

  5. Isn’t it remarkable to find a word that one has never seen or heard, used in that context? Thanks for the explanation and links. (I love new words!) And the gravestones…very special, simple, tilting, weathered…they do offer whispers from long ago years. And then on to the lushness of summer in the bogs…just beautiful. And that dragonfly…a wonder to behold! (what a weekend of wonder it has been!)

  6. Kathy says:

    OK, I laughed out right when first reading this. Ha ha cemetery! The abrupt ending part is a perfect juxtaposition. Life is so unpredictable. While it may be so painful to lose loved ones, it’s almost as if this cemetery is showing that in a larger view the Universe might be joking. Maybe we never “really” die. OK, tangling myself up in words. Just wanted to say this post was great. Thanks for stopping and taking pics and sharing.

    • Robin says:

      Thank you, Kathy. I laughed when I saw the cemetery sign for the first time (and the second time, for that matter). It seemed so perfect somehow, even though I had no idea what it meant.

      The Wikipedia entry had speculation about how the term Ha Ha might have come from people walking through a garden and coming upon a surprise such as an obstacle or abrupt ending to the path and saying, “Ha! Ha!” much the way we say “Ah ha!” Makes me wonder if death brings about the same joyous surprise.

  7. Marvelous post; love the cemetary!
    I’ve seen the first chicory blooms this week, and had the same thoughts as you…WAY early!

  8. ladyfi says:

    Lovely shots. But a funny name for a cemetery.

  9. mobius faith says:

    I L.O.V.E. the HAHA Cemetery. The only place where death is a laughing matter?
    Wonderful images as always.

  10. dadirri7 says:

    fascinating post robin, thanks for all the info on Ha Ha!

  11. Bo Mackison says:

    Ha ha — an abruptly ending path? How more appropriate than that for a cemetery? I spent the entire weekend — from 6 pm Friday til just a couple of hours ago, dealing with my youngest (adult) child’s medical emergency — pulmonary emboli in her lungs , a scary event which has been mostly resolved. I can;t think of much to laugh at about a cemetery (though I do like the photos very much, after all death is a part of all of our time) but I can sure imagine an abrupt ending. Shivers….

    And I so loved my visits to New Brunswick, Fundy Bay, PEI — there is a totally different feeling, a genuineness, that I long for. I am greatly fatigued by the constant fighting, meanness, bullying that seems rampant in our society now, and I rather long for a piece of a place that has people who hold values that include compassion and caring.

    Thanks so much for all your posts about your trip. It was a lovely ride back in time for me

    • Robin says:

      Oh no! I’m so glad to hear she’s okay, Bo. How harrowing for you. Almost losing a child (no matter what their age) is an awful experience. Wishing your daughter a smooth and easy healing. *Hugs* to you.

      I know what you mean about the genuineness of those places. I felt as though I’d left this world behind for a time, and it’s been a little tough getting back into the normal routine of things. I’m still ignoring the news, though. I just don’t want to know about the latest round of fights and bullying and whatever else has been showing up in the form of “news” these days.

  12. Very interesting post! Thanks for sharing with us, and the photos are phenomenal.

  13. I love your cemetery pictures, Robin. And that dragonfly is stunning… I find cemeteries so interesting all over the world. I’ll be posting something soon with a cemetery I found in Musandam, but it’s not nearly as beautiful as yours… :-)

    • Robin says:

      Thank you, Cathy. :)

      I find them interesting too. I would spend far too much time wandering in cemeteries if left to my own devices.

  14. Hena says:

    Hello Robin. As always, your photos are lovely. :-) Thank you so much for liking my post “LUSH Review.”. I do have a photo blog too, but I think it’s still amateurish. Yours is really great.

    Hena <3

  15. aFrankAngle says:

    Wow …. an odd name, but then to find out how the name became to be … thus making it a great name. Oh those crazy Canadians. :)

  16. bearyweather says:

    Thanks again for sharing your trip. That dragonfly picture is great .. it looks like you caught him doing wing exercises. ;-)

  17. milkayphoto says:

    Well, CLEARLY, the Ha Ha cemetery is where they bury clowns and comedians… ;-)

  18. Certainly intriguing that Ha-HA. (no joke)
    Amazing dragonfly shot!

  19. Interesting post about the Ha-Ha Cemetery. I like the post processed meadow–you could probably paint that one, right? It must be nice to have country roads on which to ride your bike and to take photos!

    • Robin says:

      Thanks, Teresita. :)

      Since I don’t paint, I couldn’t paint it but that’s why I use FotoSketcher. It paints it for me. :D And yes, it is nice to have country roads to ride on, although it would be nicer if they weren’t so hilly! lol!

  20. [...] This sign (and the shire, presumably) were located next to the Ha Ha Cemetery. [...]

  21. jane tims says:

    Hi Robin. I’ll ask a few of my friends from the area about the origins of the name, but you are likely right about the French origin. I am re-amazed every time I travel by the observatory at Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha! in Quebec. I like the black and white of John Smith’s grave. If you think about it one way, death is the final big joke on us, that we do not get…. Jane

  22. [...] Cape Enrage we made our way to Mary’s Point.  On our way we stopped at the Ha Ha Cemetery and checked out the Free Camping in the [...]


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