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Issue: 2July 2009
Title: Remains of MP's daughter could return from England
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Remains of MP's daughter could return from England

Last Updated: Thursday, July 2, 2009 | 6:43 AM AT

An Ontario member of Parliament and a relative of a New Brunswick woman who died in London nearly a century ago are trying to bring her remains to the family burial plot near Sussex, N.B.

For more than 90 years, the body of Gladys Winifred Fowler of Sussex, who died at age 18 in April 1917, has been stored in a catacomb at Kensel Green Cemetery.

Her father, then New Brunswick MP George William Fowler, was at the time a lieutenant-colonel serving with the 13th Battalion Canadian Infantry in the First World War.

The discovery last month of the casket inside a packing crate last month garnered interest from Canadians around the world, including Ontario Liberal MP Alan Tonks, who said that since the father was an MP and a war veteran, he's approached the Department of Veterans Affairs to help cover some of the costs of repatriating her remains.

"This is a very, I think, important symbol that bringing home this girl, this daughter, is sort of bringing home everyone's daughter and honouring that aspect of life," Tonks said.

A veterans affairs spokesperson said it's unlikely the federal government can pay for Fowler's return.

The problem, according to the spokesperson, is that Fowler was a civilian so it's unlikely there's a program to cover the expense of bringing her body back.

However, a niece of Fowler's has been discovered in the United States and she's also interested in having the remains of her relative finally placed in the family plot in Hammondville where for years she thought her aunt was actually buried. A grave marker lists the names of every member of the family, including Gladys.

Trip home would cost $9,500

Signe Hoffos, the chair of the Friends of Kensel Green cemetery, said it would cost about $9,500 to have Fowler sent home. The body would likely need to be moved in a zinc casket.

Hoffos said Fowler was originally intended to be returned to her family all those years ago and she's glad to see work is underway to finally make that happen.

"It's one of the most ancient visceral connections we have. We know Neanderthals bury their dead in ceremonies. It's that important to us as species," Hoffos said.