Grand Manan Museum


Three generations of the Graham family provided funeral services to island residents. The horse-drawn hearse was an iconic part if Grand Manan life.

After 33 years off island, in 2010 it was donated to the Museum and became the cornerstone to our Permanent Exhibit.

Graham Hearse
The Graham Hearse Exhibit.

About the Collection:

The Hearse of Grand Manan
This funeral hearse, once pulled by a pair of horses, was used for many years to carry the island’s dead to their final resting place.

In 2010 the hearse had been off island for 33 years where it had been taken for restoration work which never took place (long story), but thanks to Johnny’s great nephew, Jody Graham, it finally did make it home again and was donated to the Museum.

Graham Hearse

A Family Tradition: The Graham Family Undertakers
Three generations of the Graham family served as undertakers…
Robert H. Graham:  b. 1828, d. 1886
Wellington Graham (son): b. 1859, d. 1905
John Virgil Graham (grandson): b. 1888, d. 1970s?

When Robert died he was buried by his son Wellington, and when Wellington died in 1905, his son John Virgil Graham, then 17 years old, took over the business.

In 1972, at the age of 84, Johnny Graham was written up in an article in Canadian Funeral Service, Vol. 50, No. 2, as “Canada’s oldest funeral director”.  On the 8th of November, 1971, the entire population of the island, 2,450 people, were invited to a surprise party at the school auditorium called “This is Your Life Johnny”, where tribute was paid to him for his many years of service to a community in which, to quote from folk singer Paul Lauzon’s song The Undertaker’s Ball, he’d “buried more people than are left alive.


Dealing with Death Exhibit
Items in the Exhibit:
Two Death Record Ledgers
Photographs of gravestones in North Head Cemetery
Tin types, ambrotypes and old family photo albums
A death plaque and framed memorials
Widow capes and hats
Interpretive materials on “Photography and Memorial” and “Dealing with Death”

Dealing with Death