The covid 19 pandemic continues, and my husband Peter and I search daily for new places to walk in our neighbourhood.
One day we checked out a website that has maps indicating which homes in a neighbourhood have a heritage designation. We followed the map to the home of Archibald Thompson. Thompson was the first landowner in our area and he was big – 200 acres big! He cultivated farmlands and orchards and plunked his big farmhouse in the middle. He was practising social distancing way back in 1855, long before any virus had hit the city. The farmhouse, with a few modifications such as bathrooms and a garage, is still a stately family home today.
On other days we walk north to the local shopping area for essentials such as Sunnyland produce, banking, and hair dye. Then we go home by way of the cemetery. Park Lawn Cemetery is a heritage site too. It was opened and managed by a group of farmers back in 1892. It now holds over 22,000 graves, and there is still empty space. A sign along the fence tells passers-by that there are “New Lots Available! Come On In!”
As we sneak in, a safe distance from the sales office, we look for graves of dignitaries that are buried there. So far we have found the resting places of hockey greats Con Smythe and Harold Ballard, and musician Jeff Healey. Other well-known figures who live there forever are Gus Ryder, Gordon Sinclair, and Robert Home Smith, the original land developer for the Kingsway area.
The most disturbing monument is one dedicated to the “British Home Children.” Between 1869 and 1948 British couples often sent their children to Canada to escape war or sometimes extreme poverty. The children, who came by steamship, were often mistreated and overworked. Many died in childhood, and 75 of them are buried at Park Lawn. In 2017, a group of community-minded citizens raised some money to build a memorial to those children. The monument is topped with a porthole reclaimed from one of the steamships used to transport the children. Below the porthole are the names and ages of all 75 of them.
It’s very safe for walkers in the cemetery. Nobody ever coughs on us. There are no teenagers gathered to party. The bodies of the residents are buried not only 6 feet under, but 6 feet apart as well. There are lots of flowers to admire, although most of them are plastic. There are loving messages and candles on many graves, candles that will burn forever in the minds of the bereaved families.
It’s very peaceful in the cemetery too. But one day recently we made some noise – when we saw deer! Could these be the same deer that we saw in our back yard a few weeks ago? We called out to them but they didn’t seem to recognize us. Fortunately we had just been to Sunnyland, and Peter was not giving up. He pulled some lettuce out of his bag and held it up, running after them and yelling “Deer, deer, come and get some lettuce! Nice and fresh, just for you!!” The deer turned and ran the other way, looking for a place to stay safe.
Dear readers, please stay safe too. And stay out of cemeteries, unless you are just going for a walk.
3 thoughts on “Covid 19 Is A Walk In the… Cemetery”
Wow! Interesting and educational walk in the cemetery. All the cemeteries around our neighbourhood are closed. Surprised that yours is still open. Enjoy your daily walkings. Please tell us the website that you went to for historical homes.
A charming article. You invent such activities for Peter! Chasing deer while waving lettuce?
Please keep the blogs coming. I enjoy them! Blair
Lots of wildlife taking a curious peak at our sorry state of affairs. Between Uncle Tony’s hawk, your cemetery deer and the video of the jelly fish swimming down a venice canal. Nature is basically curious why we decided to leave them all alone.