In the centre of this picturesque and popular tourist town in Niagara-on-the-lake, Ontario, Canada, is St. Mark Anglican church founded in 1792. During The War of 1812, the church was used as a hospital by the British and as a barracks by the Americans. The Americans occupied the town in 1813, destroying Fort George and digging rifle pits in the cemetery surrounding St. Mark’s. The rifle pits can still be seen today.
The church is surrounded on three sides by a graveyard containing some very old stones. Not much character to the cemetery itself but many stones of interest.
This grave never to be disturbed
The blessed communion fellowship divine We feebly struggle They in glory shine Yet all are in thee For all are thine Alleluia. 1866
In the silent tomb we leave them Till the resurrection morn When our Saviour will receive them And restore their lovely form Requiescant in Pace. 1855
Friends nor physicians could not save This mortal body from the grave Nor can the grave confine him here And Christ shall bid them to appear. 1865
A stranger to hypocrisy And ready to reveal his mind A warmer heart, more open hand Or noble spirit, few will find.
The pains of death are passed Labour and sorrow cease And life’s long warfare closed at last His soul is found in peace. 1885
The representation of Jesus, acknowledged by Christians as the Son of God, is commonly seen within cemeteries in the form of free standing statues or symbols on gravestones. The symbol of a crucified Jesus brings focus to our sins and his desire to save us; whereas the images of a resurrected Jesus with outstretched arms beckons and welcomes us to share in eternal life.
The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from sin.
Safe in the arms of Jesus.
An heir of God through Christ.
With Christ which is far better.
Christ our life.
Them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring him.
Sweet bitter sleep our Father takes Till in Christ Jesus he awakes Then will his happy soul rejoice To hear his blessed Saviour’s voice. 1882
Friends and physicians could not save My mortal body from the grave Nor can the grave retain it here When Christ my saviour shall appear.
Jesus the very thought of thee.
My hope is in Christ.
Asleep in Jesus, blessed sleep From which none ever wake to weep.
Be ye also ready for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of Man cometh. 1888
Following the two World Wars, discussion and agreement by Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, South Africa and the United Kingdom (member countries of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission) on the burial of the dead created a standardized format encompassing burial sites, layout and size of the gravestones, and the legend on headstones.
Commonwealth countries built burial sites close to combat zones to preserve the link with the battlefield, whereas the United States and France created huge regional cemeteries intended to make a significant impression on people’s minds.
The graves were arranged in straight rows and designed to be perpetual and permanent. The material used in the headstones varied due to the requirement of a weather resistant substance or occurrence of earthquakes.
The standard used ensured that every grave was marked with a headstone, originally 76 centimetres (30”) tall, 38 cm (15”) wide, and 7.6cm (3.0”) thick, with upper case lettering designed by MacDonald Gill.
Each stone contained the national emblem or regimental badge, rank, name, unit, date of death and age of each casualty. In the case of burials of Victoria Cross or George Cross recipients, the regimental badge was supplemented by the Victoria Cross or George Cross emblem.
An appropriate religious symbol was included; most often a cross denoting Christianity, and sometimes a personal dedication chosen by relatives.
Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind. J. F. Kennedy
Far away in a distant land, Suddenly struck by death’s strong hand A loving son, strong and brave, Lies buried in a soldier’s grave.
No one knows the silent heartache, Only those can tell Who have lost their loved ones Without saying one farewell. We pictured him safely returning, We longed to clasp his hand, But God has postponed the meeting, Till we meet in a better land.
No one knows the silent heartache,
only those that have lost can tell
Of the grief that’s borne in silence
For the one we loved so well.
And when he gets to Heaven, To Saint Peter he will tell: ‘Just another soldier reporting, Sir. I’ve served my time in Hell.’ Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland
Do not ask us if we miss him, There is such a vacant place; Can we e’er forget that footstep, And that dear familiar face.
No loved one stood beside him to bid a last farewell, No word of comfort could he leave to those he loved so well. We little thought his time so short in this world to remain, Nor that from when his home he went he would never return again.
He marched away so bravely, His young head proudly held; His footsteps never faltered, His courage never failed, There on the field of battle, He calmly took his place, He fought for King and Country, And the honour of his race.
…And decades later, the men and women who served are still remembered and accorded the same burial.
They were loving and pleasant in their lives and in death not long divided.
July 11th, 1874 started out as a sunny day with a moderate wind on Lake Ontario, Canada.These ideal conditions for sailing prompted Robert Henderson and Charles Anderson to launch their thirty foot centreboard sloop named “Foam” from the mooring at the Royal Canadian Yacht Club in Toronto. The Andersons with five friends (all from prominent Toronto families) headed towards their destination in Niagara-on-the-Lake where they intended to party at the Queen’s Royal Hotel.
A sudden storm with heavy winds directed the yacht to a point where the strong current of the Niagara river merged with lake waters. The sudden turbulence caused a rogue wave to engulf the cabin and cockpit, immediately sinking the Foam, and pulling her down to a watery grave. Search and rescue vessels which were launched the following morning eventually discovered the vessel with five of the young men lying in their bunks.
Burial of the young men took place later at St. Mark’s Cemetery, Niagara-on-the-Lake. A white granite headstone surmounted by a Celtic Cross marks their resting place. The original inscription is almost illegible; “In affectionate remembrance of Robert C. Henderson, J. H. Murray, C. E. Anderson, Weir Anderson, Philips Braddon, C. V. W. Vernon, Vincent H. Taylor; who were lost on 11th July, 1874, by the foundering of the Yacht Foam.”
The memorial stone and seven gravestones are enclosed within a low iron fence. A bronze plaque was erected by the Royal Canadian Yacht .
On the evening of July 11, 1874, the sailing yacht Foam left Toronto headed for Niagara-on-the-Lake. As darkness fell the wind freshened, blowing heavily from the east. Guests of the Queen’s Royal Hotel watched her lights flicker and disappear. Next morning, like and arm reaching to heaven, only the mast of the vessel showed above the breakers on the bar.
A typical centreboarder with light draught and low freeboard, Foam was an older yacht and laboured in the high seas running. Despite the heroic efforts of all her crew all aboard were tragically lost. Here rest seven young yachtsmen from the Royal Canadian Yacht Club, Toronto.
C.E. Anderson, W. Anderson, P. Braddon, R.C. Henderson, J.H. Murray, V.H. Taylor, C. Vernon.
This plaque is placed in fond remembrance by the Royal Canadian Yacht Club and the Anderson family in recognition of “sailors everywhere.”
The accident has been described as one of the greatest tragedies ever to befall the sport of yachting on Lake Ontario. It is interesting to note that salvage crews found five of the young men in their cabins, and yet the plaque states heroic efforts of all her crew. Repeated sightings of the ghostly Foam continue to this day.
Vaults were created to prevent grave robbers from gaining access to freshly buried bodies, and were originally made of wood. Coffins, the universal symbol of death and mortality, are most often placed underground with a gravestone as a marker. Nowadays, the vault is manufactured in metal and is inserted into the ground to prevent the earth and coffin from collapsing. Collapse of the coffin causes the ground to sink and makes maintenance of the cemetery grounds difficult.
Man that is born of a woman is of few days
A sarcophagus is an elaborate coffin which can be created in any medium; wood, stone or metal. It is often only large enough to house one body, often someone of importance, and contains no window or door. It can also be considered a monument as it has a carving or inscription.
Ye mourning friends as you pass by
This monument survey
Learn ‘ere your solemn hour draws nigh
To choose that better way. 1813
A crypt is an underground stone chamber beneath a church, or in the wall of a religious building. Following entombment, the crypt is sealed, and a granite or marble front is attached.
Bath Abbey, England
Bath Abbey, England
In the silent tomb we leave them Till the resurrection morn When our Saviour will receive them And restore their lovely form
A tomb is very similar to a sepulcher in that it is typically underground. It can vary greatly in size and often holds the containers of multiple bodies. A sepulcher is a small room or monument, cut in rock or built of stone, in which a dead person is laid or buried. This term is also used to describe a structure with recesses in the wall to receive ashes of the dead.
Greyfriar’s Cemetery, Edinburgh, Scotland
Lasswade Cemetery, Lasswade, Scotland
Here in the silent tomb beneath this miry sod
Lies one who bore the Cross and trusted in his God;
Farewell, dear wife and friends, and my dear little son,
My work is finished and the prize is won. 1827
An above ground, large, free-standing structure is known as a mausoleum. It may be the resting place of an individual or a family group. It is often ornate with a small stained glass or open metalwork window. It stands as a monument and the more elaborate structures may have an interior chapel.
Faith Mortal! Seize the transient hour Improve each moment as it flies Life’s a short summer, Man a flower Dies Alas! How soon he dies. – 1831
A cairn or tumulus is a mound of earth and stones raised over a grave.
The busy world is hushed The fever of life over and our work done.
An ossuary is a container or room into which the bones of multiple dead people are placed. The catacombs are a renowned example.
Thy peaceful days shall keep my bones Till that sweet day I walk from my long sleep and leave My bed of clay. Sweet truth to me I shall rise and with these eyes My Saviour see.
The city of Kingston in Ontario, Canada, has never forgotten the thousands of Irish immigrants that crossed the ocean in cramped, pestilent conditions known as the Fever Ships. 50,000 people fled from the Potato Famine (An Gorta Mor translated as the Great Hunger) arriving on the shores of Canada in 1847.
Several thousand peasants disembarked in Kingston looking for a better life although most of them were sick and dying from Typhus. Approximately 1400 people died including a number of the denizens of Kingston who fell ill while tending to the sick. The immigrants were buried in a common grave, several layers deep, south of the grounds of Kingston General Hospital.
The mass grave was abandoned until 1894 when a monument unveiled by Archbishop Cleary was erected in their memory. It features the Angel of Mercy standing on a four sided block of stone.
A second side is inscribed; ‘On the 6th of August 1894, this monument was erected by James Vincent Cleary, Archbishop of Kingston in memory of his afflicted Irish compatriots, nearly 1,400 in number, who, enfeebled by famine, in 1847-8, ventured across the ocean in unequipped sailing vessels, in whose fetid holds they inhaled the germs of the pestilential “ship-fever” and on reaching Kingston, perished here, despite the assiduous attention and compassionate offices of the good citizens of Kingston. May the Heavenly Father give them eternal rest and happiness in reward of their patient suffering and Christian submission to His holy will, thorough the merits of His divine Son, Christ Jesus, our Lord. Amen.’
In 1966, to allow for expansion of Kingston General the buried remains, and the Angel of Mercy monument, were relocated to the north-west corner of St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Cemetery at Kirkpatrick and Division streets.
THE TYPHUS EPIDEMIC 1847 Though typhus had been epidemic periodically in Canada since the 1650’s, the worst outbreak occurred in the summer of 1847. In that year some 90,000 emigrants embarked for Canada, most of them refugees from the potato famine then ravaging Ireland. Nearly 16,000 died of typhus, either at sea or after their arrival in Canada. Those stricken while passing through Kingston found shelter in makeshift “immigrant sheds” erected near the waterfront. Despite the efforts of local religious and charitable organizations, notably the Sisters of the Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph and the ladies of the Female Benevolent Society, some 1,400 immigrants died. Buried near the present general hospital their remains were re-interred here in 1966.
AN GORTA MOR PARK
In 1998, the Kingston Irish Famine Commemoration Association was instrumental in naming a small park on the waterfront at Ontario and West streets, Án Gorta Mór Park. A Celtic Cross Memorial was installed the following year.
An Gorta Mor Park
An Gorta Mor Park
The base contains an inscription in French on one side and an English dedication on the reverse side; In memory of An Gorta Mor 1847- 1848 Erected by The Kingston Irish Famine Commemoration Association 1998
Incorporated into the design of the Celtic cross is a sailing ship. A dedication engraved below states in English; On This Shore More Than 1500 Irish, Fleeing THE GREAT HUNGER Along With Compassionate Citizens Of Many Faiths, Who Cared For Them, Died Of Typhus In The Fever Sheds Of Kingston. 1847 – 1848 WE HOLD THEIR MEMORY SACRED.
The reverse side of the cross contains bas-relief of a harp surrounded with shamrocks. The above inscription is reiterated in Gaelic.
Local citizens who died while attending to the sick were buried in The Upper Burying Ground also known as McBurney Park (and Skeleton Park). In 2002 a Celtic Cross Memorial was erected on the site.
An inscription in on the front panel states; In memory of the / Est. 10,000 mainly Irish & Scottish / Immigrants buried / here in Kingston’s / upper cemetery / 1813 – 1865 / May they rest / in peace
An additional inscription on the rear of the monument’s base states; Donated By Kingston Irish Folk Club Tir Na Nog Irish Pub Kingston Brewing Co. City Of Kingston March 2002
A plaque marking the exact location of the mass gravesite funded by Kingston Irish Famine Commemorative Association and Kingston General Hospital was unveiled in 2002. It is located on Stuart Street at the main entrance of Kingston General Hospital.
KINGSTON GENERAL HOSPITAL ROLE IN TYPHUS EPIDEMIC In 1847 and 1848 this site became the largest of the city’s mass graves for more than 1,400 Irish immigrants who died in fever sheds adjacent to Kingston General Hospital and Emily St. after fleeing “The Great Hunger” in Ireland. The plaque commemorates them and the selfless care givers who died nursing them.
In 1966, many remains from this site were re-interred beneath the Angel Of Mercy in St. Mary’s Cemetery. Others discovered in 1990 now rest in Catarqui Cemetery. In 1998, a Celtic Monument honouring all who died was raised in “An Gorta Mor” Park.
Erected by the Kingston Irish Famine Commemoration Association, with the support of Kingston General Hospital in 1999.
The city of Kingston hosts annual ceremonies to commemorate this moment in history.