The Dead Canadians group consists of 4 friends who are dedicated to researching cemeteries and documenting the final resting place of Canadians who have made a difference. It is about celebrating Canadian achievement and marking the lives of those who have had a positive impact on Canada.
I learned my love of "spirit walking" from my Mother. My Mum, Barbara Ann Scott, was an avid genealogist who spent many days in cemeteries in Ontario, Quebec and even some in Scotland. I joined my Mother on many of these research visits and found that I was really moved by some of the inscriptions, the dates and trends. I realized that much could be learned about the local history of an area by examining the cemeteries.
I have continued to be inspired to visit cemeteries in communities even if I don't know anyone who is interred there. I have stumbled upon former Canadian Prime Minister Arthur Meighen (St. Mary's Cemetery) as well as ethnographic painter Paul Kane. I have also discovered many small communities and vanished villages near and far from home.
For me this web site is about acknowledging the many great Canadians who shaped the Canada I know. By sharing the results of our research I hope that people will take a moment to reflect upon how we got here and those who made it possible. This site gives some of those people names and identifies their final resting place.
I have been interested in history for almost as long as I can remember. My mother and grandfather took me to see the King Tut exhibit at the AGO in 1979 when I was six years old. An interest in “Dead Canadians” might seem a far distance from ancient Egypt, but not really when you consider that both relate to the study of funerary practices and remembering the deceased.
I began researching my family history when I was fourteen, for the Bronze level of my Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. This project has led to a lifelong passion for seeking out family, often quite distantly related, in census records, church archives and of course, cemeteries. While my mother’s ancestors came to Canada around the turn of the 20th century, portions of my father’s family came to Canada in the early 1800s. So, while I can claim roots back to England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and even Mennonites from Switzerland, it turns out I have a lot of relatives who are ‘dead Canadians’!
My particular areas of interest for Dead Canadians are: abandoned graveyards, pioneer cemeteries, and the burial locations of early settlers. I am also interested in capturing information about the lives and deaths of British “Home Children”, of which I am one of four million estimated Canadian descendants.
One of our first dates Glenn told me that he had to show me something and we went to York Cemetery to see Tim Horton's grave. That is why there is snow in my photograph of his headstone -- because we went in December. I am inspired by the art of headstones, which is why I like to photograph them in black and white.
Having grown up drawing, I find the art on the tombstones fascinating. I like to learn about what the symbols mean. I also like the closure that cemeteries give. I like the peace and the tranquility in them. I love history; I am a huge history buff and you learn more about towns, people, epidemics. If you want to learn about the history of the town, go to the cemetery.
I am interested in researching headstone iconagrpahy. There are a lot of religious symbols but there are also many other symbols that you can look for such as the Masons, Legions, military.
One of my favourite cemeteries is the Fort York Cemetery.
I am fascinated with the zinc/aluminum headstones. I don't understand why they didn't come into more popular use; they last much longer. I find it a shame that so much has been lost on the marble and other stone markers.
One of my main interests is old cemeteries and the old stones. I like to do rubbings on stones that are hard to read. You know that there is something written there. In doing the rubbings and through photogaphy we can do some part towards giving back to the deceased their name and identity.
The reason I got into taking photographs of headstones was because I wanted to get to know my relatives. My mother took me to cemeteries to show me the graves of my relatives. I took pictures as a way to make a family tree. From there I was able to trace my family history, including the anglization of the family names: Messier became Macey and Le Blanc became White. The family did this a long time ago in order to fit in with the small community of Honey Harbour, Ontario. They originally came from Matane in the Gaspé region, so we figure our family is Acadian in origin.
My goals are to capture images of the graves of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens. I am also interested in those Canadians who have been awarded the Victoria Cross.