St. Peter's Cemetery, Lewiston, ME
St. Peter's Cemetery / The French Cemetery / Switzerland Road Cemetery
As a point of fact, St. Peter's cemetery is the second largest cemetery in the State of Maine. (the largest is Evergreen Cemetery in Portland).  And... as a point of frustration, in spite of numerous internet searches using multiple search engines, there simply is not a lot of information published on line that tells us very much about the cemetery.   For this reason, here is a little bit of what I know and what I've found out about the "afterlife" home of a considerable number of my relatives.  This is the final resting place for many Lachance's, not only those from my family but other, not so close, families as well.  Additional related family names found here include Desjardins; Pelletier; Dube; Malo; Sutton; and Simard. 

There is, at least, one "Hollywood Type" buried here.  His name is Louis Joseph Coté (aka Lew Cody) a "silent film" screen star of the early 1900's.  He died in 1934. Yes, of course he is related but I have not researched his specific family to find out how.  Some information about him can be found at Find-A-Grave - Memorial #10402605
Click for more
LOCATION:
177-217 Switzerland Rd
Lewiston, ME 04240
Phone:  (207) 782-8721
Google Maps

Cemetery Burial / Section Maps
The cemetery office can provide maps of different sections. As you can imagine, there are several sectional maps because of the large number of people buried in the cemetery. Cemetery personnel can assist you in narrowing your search.
Maps Available On Line
A genealogy website maintained by Joan Lozier includes genealogy for the families of  Levesque, Lozier, Mascola, and Messina, among others.  She has also posted maps of St. Peter's and other Maine cemeteries. 
(Click to visit "Joans Home" cemeteries page)
Marine Desmarais Headstone Inset
Le Cimietière de la Congrégation Canadienne
Cemetery records indicate that there were 172 interments between 1870 and July 1, 1876 in what was then known as
"Le Cimietière de la Congrégation Canadienne."
On July 1, 1876,  The French Cemetery on Switzerland Road was established when 8-acres of land was purchased by the current bishop.
The first adult to be buried in the cemetery was Marine Desmarais, the wife of Mathias Auger, who died on September 18, 1876. (a portion of the Auger headstone is pictured)
(Click to visit) headstone at "Find-a-Grave" - Memorial ID 46808209
Confucius Image
Time - How much do really have?
In both fiction, and non-fiction there exists countless versions of the “timeless” reminder that time is brief and that we should make good use of it.
Easy to understand, Confucius describes it this way...
“Time flows away like the water in the river.”
Time Like Flowing Water - Confucius
History of St. Peter's Cemetery
St. Peter’s Cemetery in Lewiston was founded July 1, 1876 when the current Bishop bought eight acres of land on the Switzerland Road. The first interment, on July 2nd of that year, was Joseph Gaudias Laroche, 10-month-old son of Joseph Omer Laroche and Celine Ferland who died June 19, 1876 at the age of 10-months and 21-days.

In February 1952, the parish of St. Peter’s in Lewiston purchased 24 acres of land (including the old Gastonguay farm) from Mrs. Anna Charest of Lewiston.  Work on the new section started almost immediately and was, at the time, estimated to take at least two years to complete. A bronze memorial section was begun in 1954 and has grown to include over 9,000 grave spaces.

Between 1881 and 1994, the Society of the Dominican Fathers owned and operated St. Peter’s Cemetery, but after their numbers declined too far, control was turned over to the Roman Catholic Bishop of Portland on December 31, 1994. Today, there are more than 70 acres in use and another 70-75 acres that could be developed.  The Society of Dominican Fathers also administered all properties and undertakings of St. Peter’s parish in addition to the cemetery.
Over 40,000 burials have been conducted there since the cemetery was founded. (2003 number)
Garden Of Angels at St. Peter's Cemtery, Lewiston
Photo at Google.com by Karen Dube, Aug 2017
On its 125th anniversary, in 2001, the cemetery put out a calendar with some of the many changes including aerial photographs from 1938 and 1992. As part of the anniversary celebrations, the cemetery dedicated a small park called the ‘Garden of the Holy Angels’ next to an area of more than 6,000 baby graves.
St. Peter’s contains the largest community mausoleum in the state. Its size allows it to have two interior chapels.

The mausoleum  (
see blessing below) also houses a columbarium or cremation area with wooden niches for cremated remains which can be stored in a variety of urns. Many more people choose to be cremated today. The number relative to all burials has grown from 6% in 1990 when Gerry Raymond first took over the management of St. Peter’s to 37% today. (2003 number)
The information above contains excerpts from the Portland Catholic Diocese  and the Androscoggin Chamber News - Nov 2003 as well as other sources most of which are identified.
Chapel at St. Peter's Cemetery - Lewiston, ME
Chapel Photo  by Florence Dube, 2001
Garden Mausoleum at St. Peter's Cemtery - Lewiston, ME
The new St. Louis Garden Mausoleum at St. Peter’s Cemetery in Lewiston contains 76 single crypts, 64 companion crypts, and 284 cremation crypts. Photo Lewiston Auburn Twin City Times - June 2014
Bishop blesses new Garden Mausoleum in Lewiston
Lewiston Auburn Twin City Times
June 18, 2014 | Author editor
Bishop Robert P. Deeley recently blessed and dedicated the new St. Louis Garden Mausoleum at St. Peter’s Cemetery in Lewiston. The mausoleum contains 76 single crypts and 64 companion crypts, as well as 284 cremation crypts. The planning process for the mausoleum began nearly three years ago and construction began last autumn.

The Garden Mausoleum is located near the cemetery’s larger mausoleum and chapel and is named for the recently closed St. Louis Church in Auburn. During Saturday’s dedication ceremony, Georgette Berube, a former parishioner, presented a brief history of the parish.

Those who gathered for the dedication also heard Laurier Raymond, Jr., chairman of the cemetery’s board of directors, speak about the cemetery’s rich history. Originally known as the French Cemetery, St. Peter’s opened in 1876. At the time, it was just eight acres, but it has since grown to 70 acres of developed land.

The Dominican Fathers owned and operated St. Peter’s Cemetery from 1881 until 1994, when it became a diocesan cemetery.
“Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It's the transition that's troublesome.”
― Isaac Asimov
Fantastic Voyage II: Destination Brain (1987), 89
Story of the Lachance Family Plot
While we may not have a comedy caper involving a phony psychic with a cab driving boyfriend or a pair of professional  jewel thieves and kidnappers on the hunt for a missing heir ...

... we do have a Family Plot!  It is a blatantly obvious fact that our family is not without its share of colorful stories.  Pictured here is the family headstone at St. Peter's Cemetery.
Cost at time of purchase; $160.00  Below are the names of those buried here.
Joseph Lachance  - 1856-1927
epoux de
Malvina Daoust - 1864-1934
Eva Lachance - daughter - 1893-1966
Clara M. Lachance - daughter - 1900-1972
Zelia Lachance -daughter - 1897-1959
Hazel P. McGrath (Provencher)
Not Family but partner (I believe) of Aunt Clara
Click the headstone  images to open in a lightbox
Lachance Headstone - St. Peter's Cemetery - Lewiston, ME
I am fairly certain that Hazel McGrath (nee Provencher) was the "life partner" of my great aunt Clara, also buried here.  What I'm not sure of (and cant' figure out for the life of me WHY) is the fact that Hazel's name is engraved at the top of the stone.  I have redesigned the headstone, first thinking I could grind down and re-engrave the names on front and back of the original.

I've since discovered that the stone is too thin to grind down AND the back is rough and impossible to grind down without breaking.  So, the answer is, buy a new headstone!  This is NOT what I had in mind I can assure you BUT - since I have purchased one of the two remaining spots (
for cremations only) in the FAMILY PLOT for me, I need to get cracking on design and purchase.  Have you seen the prices on headstones these days? 

I've come up with a new design that I think will work and I think I like. I would love to know what others think about this design.  Once I get to the point of actually doing it, maybe I'll start a "go fund me page"  and see what happens!  (I say that with a grin as in, I don't think I'm really serious about a "go fund me"! Then again, by the time I'm able to purchase a new stone, I might get serious about it!)
Idea for New Lachance Headstone
More About
If you live in Lewiston and your last name is of Quebéc origin, most likely we are going to, somehow, be related ... scary isn't it?  I can't possibly put up all of the photos I have of headstones in St. Peter's Cemetery, let alone St. John's in Brunswick or Mount Auburn or any of the many others.  I'd have to become another "find-a-grave" and I'm not prepared for that responsibility!

BUT ... I do have a couple others that I decided to put up here, particularly those of the Desjardins, the Malo, and my Uncle Harvey Lachance (Hervé).  Enjoy!
Desjardins Family Headstone
Lachance and Dube Family Headstone
Joseph Hervey Lachance
2 Fev 1886 - 9 Juin 1982
Son Epouse
Rose Bazinet
12 Sept 1887 - 1 Fev 1984
Malo Family Headstone

Malo (front)

  Louis Malo  
1871  -  1938
EPOUX DE
Caroline Turcotte
1872  -  1957
Eva Beaudoin
1893  -  1964
EPOUSE DE
Felix Malo
1893  -  1967

Malo (back)

1848  Celinde Malo  1922
1896  Alphonse  1908
1925  Jacqueline  1934
1925  Marcel  1938
Napolean Turcotte
1875 - 1941
1895  Alfred Malo  1950
Epoux de
Alma Bernier
My Thoughts
While we're on the subject of cemeteries and dying, I believe I'll offer up my own personal philosophy.

When I was in my teens I never even gave this a passing thought; I thought I was invincible!  Maybe not Superman invincible but ... well, you know what I mean!  Today it's a different story!  There IS truth to what people say about time, seemingly, passing by faster as one grows older.  While my beliefs are somewhat out of the ordinary, they do match up with the general thought process of many today. I believe life is much like being a passenger on a New Jersey Transit train ... when the conductor comes by and punches your ticket, it's done!  As anybody who rides these trains knows, it's impossible to tell when the conductor is going to come by!

With that belief in mind, the increased pace of time passing, and knowing full well that sooner or later "we all sleep alone", I've had to rethink my overall goal in this life.  I have found that one can learn a lot from the old "funny papers" or "comic strips" and I'm certain that there must be some messages in todays "anime" or "cartoons" as well. But for me, Charles Schulz says it best in an 1961 comic strip of "Peanuts".  With that said, here's what I want to be when I grow up!

Quote from a Fortune Cookie
"Time is not measured by a watch, but by  moments"
NJ Tranisit Weekly Ticket
Here's A Little Song I Wrote
(not really me!)
Like good little children, don't worry, be happy
Now listen to what I said, in your life expect some trouble
When you worry you make it double
But don't worry, be happy, be happy now...
Bobby McFerrin
So then ... all of this pretty much sums up my thoughts on life in general.  Maybe we are all here for a reason, maybe we are all a mistake ... but no matter the reasons what IS important ... is to be happy and not worry.  After all, we already know that "Merde Happens!"
HELP WANTED
If there's anybody out there (actually reading this) who might have more information ( bits and pieces, facts, history, ghost stories, anything) about St. Peter's Cemetery, PLEASE let me know and I'll add it to the page.  It doesn't matter if you are a Lachance or not!  Everybody who knows me already understands that I'll take all the help I can get!
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