Final Thoughts for the Summer

Hi there!

As the summer winds down, I have been thinking about how I have accomplished and learned so many more things than I could have possibly imagined at the beginning of the summer. We completed almost the entire project of the Scottish Cemetery (130 stones!), repaired and restored approximately a dozen others around the cemetery, including ones that were completely underground, and stood up thirteen of the gravestones from Old St Paul’s Cemetery. We put together a walking tour, each of us completed several radio/tv/newspaper interviews, and we helped uncover some of the lost history of Woodland Cemetery.

During our last few weeks, we will be doing a couple of things. We are wrapping up our final project (the standing of the corner stones in Section U), we are doing  repairs to fallen gravestones around the cemetery (fallen or loose monuments), and we are hoping to finish up our video diary / documentary on tombstone archeology.

The video has been quite a challenge. Sunny and I have been learning to use Final Cut Pro, which has forced me to recall my high school days in media arts classes, and we have had to go out into the cemetery and get some final additional footage for the project. Regardless of whether it airs or not, I think that this part of the job has been the most challenging for me (I am not that great with technology), and may provide a great sense of satisfaction when it is complete. It encompasses most of the work we completed this summer, all the new skills we learned, our progressing thoughts and expectations of the job, and showcases our team’s deep appreciation for the history of Woodland Cemetery.

People don’t often acknowledge cemeteries. Yes, we drive by them on our way to work,  the grocery store, and the movies, but we look past them. We don’t see the beauty within historical cemeteries such as Woodland and the history it holds. I think most of us don’t really think about them until we are forced to go under unfortunate circumstances. When I was younger, cemeteries terrified me. It was only two years ago, when I was living in Europe, did I discover my deep appreciation for cemeteries and the ways in which they preserve memory. Working at Woodland has been a fantastic experience and I have greatly enjoyed my time here. Our manager, and every member of staff at Woodland works hard to preserve the cemetery’s natural beauty, help people through difficult times in their lives, and ensure that everyone’s deceased loved ones are guaranteed a proper and respectful memorialization, in whatever way the family wishes to do it.

Our work is not yet done at Woodland Cemetery. Hopefully next year’s students will be able to carry on our work and finish the projects we did not get the chance to complete.

Thank you for keeping up with our work!

For the last time,

Alyssa

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… and a little bit more

For the past three months, we have learned a great deal about cemeteries. Our manager, Paul, is always eager to tell us everything he knows about the history of our cemetery and others around London, local historians such as Catherine McEwen and Dan Brock are eager to share their expertise on Middlesex County stonecarvers, and the librarians, archivists, and others working in the many libraries and archives we have visited alway seem pleased to see us and interested in our latest research. Everyone we have encountered has been extremely helpful in providing information and support in our efforts to uncover more and more Woodland Cemetery history.

As stated in the last blog post, Woodland was forced to move twice due to city expansion. Originally it was a church graveyard, but because it became overcrowded, a park-style cemetery was established outside city limits, where it was eventually overtaken by building and moved again to Woodland Park. These park-style cemeteries originated in Britain and were quickly picked up in the United States and Canada as well. Mourning was in fashion in the Victorian age, Queen Victoria’s mourning of her husband for much of her life influenced the way people thought of death and dying. Beautiful stone tablets were created as memorials for deceased loved ones and elaborate mourning customs were established to celebrate the dead. Death was romanticized, and was viewed as a natural part of life for the Victorians (see references to Victorian post-mortem photography). Cemeteries reflected this. While cities expanded and land within city limits became more desirable for living space, cemeteries were moved outside of cities to large parks for space and beautiful surroundings.

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Queen Victoria in mourning clothes

A few park-style cemeteries in England eventually became run down and repurposed into open spaces for the public. Gravestones were taken down or demolished and most signs that a cemetery was ever present vanished.

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Leeds General Cemetery in disrepair. Leeds, England.
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Woodhouse Cemetery in St George’s Field at the University of Leeds.

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Woodhouse Cemetery at the University of Leeds is a strange place. If one visits, it does not seem like a cemetery at all. The original stones that survived the area’s transformation are placed along a short path near one of the entrances and placed close together. The tiles that make up the walk way around the cemetery’s original chapel list the names of people who are buried in the field, with anywhere from one to around twenty on each stone. In the image above, you can see there is writing on the path (people’s names).

The Victorian cemetery allowed for people to openly celebrate the beauty of death. They would take picnics to the cemetery, visit their deceased loved ones, and make a day of it. They showcased the art of the day and popularized the idea of public parks for socializing and relaxing. They served as a beautiful quiet space inside of rapidly expanding, industrializing, and dirty cities.

However, the First World War ended this desire for park-style cemeteries. Death was no longer celebrated as young men died by the thousands, and death became viewed as more brutal, terrifying, and unknown. Cemeteries became quieter places, the sheer volume of deaths taking place during the war caused thousands of monuments to be erected in cemeteries to commemorate the brave sons, fathers, brothers, and husbands who fought for their country. Stones lost their unique artistry as death became less personal. Mourning became more private and with that, personality left the cemeteries.

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A war cemetery at Vimy Ridge in France.

A little bit on cemeteries…

For the final blog post of the week, I thought I would talk a little about the history of cemeteries. Since we work in one, it seemed overdue that we talk a little bit about the history of cemeteries in London as well as Woodland Cemetery in particular. There is a fantastic short history of Woodland Cemetery written by Levi a couple years ago that gives a brief overview of the movements of St Paul’s Cemetery from 1849 until the mid-1880s when the graves were settled in their final resting places.

Now, this summer has been quite the learning experience for me, as I have discovered a great deal about the history of London. Our team has had several visits from local historians, and our boss, Paul, is extremely knowledgable about much of London’s exciting history. The 1832 Cholera Epidemic – while the mortality rate was not exceptionally high, Londoners such as Dr Elam Stimson (mentioned in a previous blog post), lost loved ones and suffered through the epidemic as London was still a small, but growing city. The 1874 Komoka Train Fire, where a train car caught fire on its way from London to Sarnia. We only discovered this disaster as a memorial stone for two of the victims of the fire is located in Woodland and somewhat describes the incident (the rest of the story had to be researched from the Komoka Railway Museum’s website, but as someone who loves to learn about trains, this was no issue for me).19911695_10209276870215330_1580958185_o

The Victoria Day Disaster in 1881, when a steamship carrying 650 passengers capsized in the Thames and over 180 died in the disaster, many of whom were buried at Woodland Cemetery. Severe natural disasters, the Deluge of London West in 1883 and the Great Flood of London (1937) and fatal building collapses speckle London’s rich history and traces of them and their impacts can be seen at Woodland. While these stories are all extremely interesting and tragic, one can’t help but ask what these disasters have to do with cemeteries. Cemeteries are the resting places of the victims of these kinds of disasters. Through mourning practices of the time period, historians and the public can glean an idea of what life was like in different eras,

Cemeteries and the burial and mourning of the dead are centuries-old traditions that develop differently around the world based on available resources, religion, and cultural practices. We know of many burial practices for the ‘rich and famous’ of the ancient world. From mummification, and the great pyramids in Egypt and all the treasures they hold, the Terracotta Army protecting Chinese Emperor Qin Shi Huang in the afterlife, and the Mausoleum of Augustus, which houses many Roman Emperors.

In the late-Medieval and early modern period, we come across many more elaborate and fantastical monuments and burial tombs for the prosperous. Westminster Abbey, the Taj Mahal, and more modern cemeteries such as the Arlington National Cemetery, house royals, government figures, and other prominent societal figures. But what about the common people?

Also known as “grave fields”, prehistoric cemeteries varied based on geography, and the religion and culture of the society. The ancient pagans used many of the same burial rituals, such as burial mounds, shaft tombs, and cremation.

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Ancient burial mounds in Bahrain, photographed in 1956. From http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/31/world/meast/in-bahrain-development-chips-away/index.html

The Zoroastrians in Persia used ossuaries, often stone boxes where the remains of loved ones would be interred after they had decomposed, in order to preserve burial space. Over time, these ossuaries evolved to become much more elaborate (see the Sedlec Ossuary in the Czech Republic).

Much of the following information about Woodland Cemetery can be found in a wonderful brochure created by Levi, which I would highly recommend! Woodland Cemetery was not established until 1879, but we have graves from many years prior to the opening of the cemetery. These older graves comes from St Paul’s Cemetery, which was originally located right on the church’s grounds. In 1849, it was determined that the cemetery and all of its contents should be moved outside of town limits to where the Western Fairgrounds are today. It is also interesting to note that a cemetery located in a church yard is more commonly referred to as a graveyard and that a cemetery not within a church’s yard cannot be a graveyard (all graveyards are cemeteries but not all cemeteries are graveyards). The movement of many of the graves was due to overcrowding within the downtown area of London (the desire to allocate space for the living rather than the dead), and sanitation issues. Having water for city inhabitants running through a graveyard would be damaging to the health of people and could cause dangerous outbreaks of disease. So it was decided that they would be moved far outside of town limits where St Paul’s had purchased land for this purpose. The cemetery continued to function much like the cemeteries of the time. It had family lots for purchase and a Potter’s field, for those unable to purchase lots themselves. However, within 30 years, the city’s expansion overcame the new cemetery and St Paul’s looked to the west end of the city to build their new cemetery. In 1879, they purchased the land where Woodland stands today, established their Victorian park-style cemetery, and moved all the graves from the Western Fairgrounds, which took six years to complete!

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A streetcar on the Springbank Line c.1896. Woodland Cemetery is located on the right and the Thames River is on the left. Photo is from the London Room at London Public Library.

This all seems fairly ridiculous to us now. How could they keep moving a cemetery, filled with hundreds of bodies and gravestones to each new plot of land without missing any? They didn’t! Gravestones break in transit, particularly the tall, flat gravestones of the Victorian age, keys (the bottom part of the grave that goes into the ground and keeps the actual stone upright) were often taken and repurposed, leaving stones lying flat on the ground over the burial. Bodies were missed, stones misplaced, but it is still quite impressive that they moved so many without the technology and machinery we have today.

In the Victorian Era, mourning practices were extremely important. Queen Victoria herself had inspired a certain style for commoners in her realm to follow; wearing black, sombre gatherings, and the commissioning of detailed, personalized monuments for the dead gained popularity among the people of London, Ontario. The end of the American Civil War in the 1860s and the completion of the railroad in the late-nineteenth century allowed for more sturdy material to be brought in for building gravestones. Marble came in from quarries in Vermont, largely replacing the older sandstone gravestones as it was less likely to erode and break, and was more aesthetically pleasing.

This post is becoming a little bit long and I wanted to include more about the week we had so I will have to conclude the history of cemeteries another week. Stay tuned!

This week was much of the same, but the poor weather conditions prevented us from mortaring and gluing stones. So we had a couple of research days and did what we could at the cemetery, cleaning and using putty to seal multi-level monuments back into place. We also got to visit the Museum of Ontario Archeology on Wednesday, which was a great deal of fun! We spoke to the archeology summer campers and got to tell them all about tombstone archeology. The campers had a lot of really good questions and they were a great audience!

I came across an interesting article while researching cemeteries, so if you’re interested in reading up on pet burials, here is a short article on interesting cases of animals being given ritualistic burials.

The Russian Flu Pandemic 1889-93

As Peter previously mentioned in Friday’s blog post, we discovered the gravestones of 3 young girls, Mary, Minnie, and Clara, last week. Initially, we thought they were orphans from the Protestant Orphan’s Home due to the small size and lackluster appearance of the markers, but soon discovered that they were in fact, sisters. Their cemetery plot had been purchased by their father, James Perkins. Given this information, and the short period of time in which they died (January-March 1891), we concluded they must have died from some kind of contagious disease.

MacKenzie suspected that they could have died from the Russian Flu, as the time of their deaths occurs shortly after the disease reached the big cities in Canada, including London. This lead me to research more on the Russian flu epidemic, particularly its presence and impact in Canada.

Unfortunately, there is not a lot of information about the Russian flu (even though it caused around one million deaths worldwide – in relation to today’s population, it would be around 420 million people suddenly dying), let alone the Russian flu in Canada. It reached major Canadian cities in early 1890, including Toronto, Hamilton, Montreal, and even London. The image below is a map compiled by a team of international scholars in the early 1890s, showing the spread of the flu across the globe.

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This image from <https://circulatingnow.nlm.nih.gov/2014/08/11/mapping-the-1889-1890-russian-flu/> tracks the arrival and movement of the flu across the globe.

The Russian flu was not as detrimental as the later, and more famous, Spanish flu, but it is hypothesized that the Russian flu made the Spanish one following the First World War, much more dangerous. Based on the theory of ‘first antigenic sin’, it seems that the arrival of the Russian flu made survivors develop antibodies that would prove useless against the more evolved Spanish flu that occurred later.

It is difficult to track the progress of the Russian flu, as it is not as heavily studied as other influenza epidemics in North America. The articles that exist are heavily based on medical and statistical analyses (luckily I love statistics, so it has been enjoyable for me!), and can be difficult for historians to interpret.

It would be difficult to track the direct deaths from the epidemic as many, such as the Perkins sisters, could have perished due to complications. Based on their death records, two of the sisters died from respiratory infections that were likely caused by the flu. Furthermore, it is likely that Canadian newspapers were not eager to publish reports and outbreaks of the flu in their cities as it would discourage immigration, which was needed to help grow the nation’s population and economy.

This research on the Russian flu proved to be very interesting. I learned about something I had never heard of before, and had the pleasure of looking at plenty of statistical charts and maps!

One more week to go!

Just over a week until we welcome visitors to Woodland Cemetery for our Canada 150 Walking Tour!

This morning we set up our GIANT promotional signs for the walking tour and the memorial trees. The first one took some time, but with teamwork and collaboration, we managed to put it together and stand it up near the front gate of the cemetery. The second one was much easier.

Our week was slow. Monday was hot, we worked on the limestone sandbox that will display the Scottish Cemetery stones, and we had visitors from St Andrew’s Parish come visit us in the afternoon! They were very interested in our work and we loved seeing them here, showing them our progress and discussing our future plans for the memorial!

We were absent from Woodland on Tuesday (due to our convocation at Western University). Wednesday was our most exciting day. We welcomed a group of children to our work site and told them all about our work. They even uncovered and cleaned a gravestone themselves! They were so wonderful to have here! We joined them on their Victoria Day Disaster Tour, where one of the children gave a wonderful summary of the event! Levi was of course also a fantastic guide and told us all about some of the people we have at Woodland who died in the disaster. It was very informative and interesting.

We have finally put together the script for the walking tour so we will be working tirelessly all next week in order to memorize the information for all of our visitors on June 24th! Please come out for a day full of London history: the every-men, the dramatic, and the scandalous. Hopefully it’ll be nice, but not too hot!

With the walking tour fast approaching…

Another hectic week for us here at Woodland!

We completed the usual tasks: cleaning, looking for monuments under the surface, and researched. We are excited to confirm that the brochure for the walking tour is underway and we are slowly putting together all of the exciting information we want to share with our walking tour participants! You’ve already learned about the Scatcherds, Kingsmills, and Thomas Francis from earlier posts, but we have so much more to share with our visitors, so if you’re in the London area on June 24th, please stop by! We would love to show you everything we’ve been doing and learning for the past month!

Major event this week: we finally completed the first layer of limestone shale for the Scottish Cemetery display we will put in Section U. We received the shipment a while ago, but it has been a great deal of work getting all the stone in our pit, and smoothing it out across the lot.

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My favourite day was probably Wednesday. We did research in the afternoon, Sunny and Peter went to Central Library, and MacKenzie and I spent our afternoon at Western Archives and in the Map and Data Centre at Western University (we were later joined by Sunny). The Map and Data Centre is amazing. We went through all of the centre’s maps on 1850-1880s London, and chose with maps we hope to use for the walking tour. The Map Librarian, Cheryl Woods, was ever so helpful and assisted us with questions we had and suggested ways for us to scan a map that we wanted to use (she even helped us scan it at the centre). Below is one of the many interesting maps we found showing London in the 1870s. The digitized version is available on the Map & Data Centre’s website.

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“Bird’s Eye View of London,” from the Map & Data Centre at Western University

Also this week, we learned how to do basic repairs on stones. We cleaned the breaks, allowed them to dry, and applied a line of adhesive gel with a caulking gun. We then placed the second piece in line with the break, applied pressure, and made sure the break lined up so that the stone was aligned. We then had to clamp the stone so that there was no risk of slipping or the broken piece falling off. After it dried (about a day later), we fill in any cracks with a lime mortar. We all found the process very interesting and I think a few of us found it fun as well!

The four of us have our university graduation on Tuesday so hopefully we will have beautiful weather for that! We are also excited to welcome representatives from St Andrew’s Parish on Monday, and on Wednesday, we are hosting the mayor, and a group of children from WD Sutton! We will be very excited to welcome all of them to Woodland!

This Week’s Review

Hello everyone!

This week was a busy one. We spent Monday at Woodland, continuing our cataloging of gravestones from the Scottish Cemetery, cleaning stones, and introducing our new co-worker and former classmate, Jonathon, to the team. Jonathon started at Woodland this week as the summer student arborist, and he will help contribute to Woodland Cemetery’s Canada 150 celebrations by putting together a short walking tour on the witness trees on the property. We greatly enjoyed working with him and showing him all the beautiful sights on the property.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, we search Western University’s Archives for information on the individuals and families we have chosen for our short video (which will be posted to Woodland’s website sometime later this month). MacKenzie and I spent hours going through microfilm records of London’s city directories from 1855-1875. We found several people of interest, and tracked their addresses through those decades. We discovered that James Glen, a man whose stone we found in the Scottish cemetery, lived on the corner of Dundas and Ridout, right next to where Budweiser Gardens is now located! It is amazing the kinds of information one can find in the archives. It is very interesting to look at places in downtown London in the modern day and know that things looked very different only 150 years ago! We also ventured down to the Map and Data Centre at D.B. Weldon Library to look at maps of London from the 1850s-1870s, and looked through more family fonds.

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While looking through the directories, we found many advertisements and realized that we could search for adverts printed by the marble workers. Here are the advertisements of three of the most prominent marble and stone workers in London in the late-1860s and early-1870s, George Powell, Charles L. Teale, and John W. Smyth:

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On Thursday we continued our cleaning of the Scottish stones, and finally finished measuring and cataloging all the monuments and inscriptions! We even had visitors from the afternoon who we had the pleasure of showing around Section U. We also spent a great deal of time looking for the graves of the Teale family. We fruitlessly searched for the grave closest to our site for the walking tour, but hopefully we will find it sometime next week.

Today, we went to St Paul’s Cathedral again and uncovered a gravestone from 1832. It memorialized the wife and son of Dr. Elam Stimson, who treated many of the sufferers of the 1832 Cholera Epidemic. His wife and son died in the epidemic within days of each other. Another one of his children became so ill that she was changed into her grave clothes and preparations began for her burial, but she pulled through and survived the epidemic. The stone had sunk to about a foot under ground level, so we lifted it out, filled in the hole, and placed the stone back on top of the grass.

Thanks for reading!

Friday plans rained out

Hello again!

The initial plan for the day was to visit St Paul’s Cathedral downtown again, but due to unforeseen circumstances (including today’s dismal weather), we had to re-evaluate our plan this morning. While we did manage to get the rest of the stones out of the ground earlier this week, and have already cleaned the majority of them, there are still dozens to finish! We decided to continue with the cleaning process on a few stones this morning as well as continue our cataloguing of them! The cataloguing process we have been using was started because we needed a way to identify them separately from each other as they were being moved around the site during excavation. We also got our first shipment of limestone shale that the stones will be placed on! It was a very exciting morning for us!

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When we found them, the stones were placed nicely into 3 almost distinct rows. We labelled the rows as ‘A’, ‘B’, and ‘C’, and each stone received it’s own number – starting at 1 in each row and continuing as high as 57 (so for example, a stone might have the catalogue number A12, as seen below). We also decided to transcribe the stones and have begun to write down the entire legible inscription of each stone. The top left image is our initial before picture, recently uncovered with a catalog number for our records. The second image on the right is the stone after its first cleaning, with the appropriate flag still attached. And finally, the bottom image shows the transcription of the information on the stone. There is still official cataloguing to do, but this is a simple way we have used to keep track of our finds.

This afternoon, we continued our research at Western University Archives. We sorted through documents on the Lee family (as discussed in Sunny’s earlier blog post), and the Kingsmill family. I have never spent much time in the archives and this was an amazing experience for me. MacKenzie searched for marriage records pertaining to Thomas F. Kingsmill, and discovered a 19th century London scandal! We found almost a dozen marriage records in the Kingsmill fonds; however, we were unable to find either of Thomas F. Kingsmill Sr.’s official marriage records. We did find his will, and many documented histories of the Kingsmill family. I am not a London native, but through the last few weeks at the cemetery, researching the history of some of the more prominent families here, I have been learning about the importance of the Kingsmill family in London over the last 150 years. Thomas Kingsmill Sr. emigrated to first the United States, and then Canada from Ireland over a century ago. A man with few prospects, he built his own fortune, which lead to the establishment of the Kingsmill Department Store.

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Sunny found a mourning card for Hiram Lee! She also managed to find the document stating Hiram Lee’s purchase of the plot at Woodland Cemetery, which he purchased for $16 at the time. It is sometimes amazing how much you can find out about someone who may seem so lost to history.

Thanks for reading!

Field Trip to St Paul’s Cathedral

Hi everyone! Another Friday has rolled around. I think our team likes Fridays here at Woodland, not because it’s the last day before the weekend, but because by this point in the week we have gotten into the swing of things and don’t have to contemplate what to do today, we have already decided and planned the day before or earlier in the week. For example, today we continued with our cleaning of the stones since we had started the process yesterday.

Yesterday was our “field trip” to St Paul’s Cathedral in downtown London. The Parish Council asked us to come for a visit to do some preliminary probing on the front lawn since they suspected that many monuments were sitting under the surface, unseen. When we arrived, we quickly determined the most likely areas for the stones to be and began to check the area for stones under the ground.

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Since St Paul’s is located in a heavily trafficked area of downtown, we had to be particularly careful with our excavation of the stones. We couldn’t make a mess of the front lawn, and we couldn’t really do significant lifting of the stones (since we didn’t have the machinery or tools we usually use for heavy lifting). We began along one of the fences where we saw 3 stones in a row. We assumed that stones continued along the row with the same spacing between them and this turned out to be correct!

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As MacKenzie probed for stones along the line, Sunny followed along, and the two worked as a team to determine the edges of the stones so we could begin to dig and uncover them. As Peter mentioned in his post, he and Joey were working on digging to what we initially thought was a stone, but turned out to be a cluster of tightly packed rocks. Once we determined the mistake, we began to work as a team to uncover the flagged section. As we dug up a couple of the stones and were able to read them, we learned that we may have stumbled across a children’s section of stones. Very sad, but in the mid-nineteenth century, it was not uncommon for children to pass away before their first or second birthday.

The overall process of extracting the stones from the earth was largely the same as we do at Woodland, but many of the stones we worked on at St Paul’s were much smaller. And since we were only there for a few hours, we didn’t have time to clean them, only enough supplies and time for a quick brushing.

We had a few curious visitors while we were working, who were keen to ask us about our work and plans for the stones (at this point, we have no plans for the stones at St Paul’s). It’s always exciting to meet people interested in our work and tell them about our major project at Woodland. Hopefully we will convince a lot of people to come out to our tour on June 24th!

That’s all for this week, have a wonderful long weekend!

Our Week in Review

What a week! On our first day last Thursday, I don’t think any of us expected that we would be so busy and have such an amazing discovery on our hands by the end of week one! Sunny, MacKenzie, Peter, and I have already learned so much and are dreading the end of the summer when we will have to leave! Our first week was very eventful; we experienced 7 interviews from various media outlets, discovered approximately 80 monuments, and researched until we couldn’t.

On Monday, we discovered the old Scottish Cemetery! We discovered that these monuments – some dating back to the 1840s – were moved from St Andrew’s Parish on St James Street in 1955. Many of them are still in amazing shape, and very few are broken. Throughout the week, we continued to uncover the rows of stones, began the preliminary cleaning, and catalogued 60 of the monuments. When we began the project, we had no idea we would discover so many well-preserved monuments, so we have all been very excited!

We were visited by quite a few local historians throughout the week, they were all so helpful, providing us with droves of valuable information and were just as excited as we were about our discovery! One of the documents they provided us with confirmed that we had indeed uncovered the old cemetery from St Andrew’s! Woodland Cemetery was aware that the stones had been moved in 1955, but they were unsure of the current locations of the stones. The document contains several pieces of information that are crucial to the continuation of our work. The document contains the number of monuments moved from St Andrew’s to Woodland in 1955, and a list of the information on every stone, including the person’s name, date of death, and any other inscriptions. We first took some of the names we could read from the gravestones in the ground and compared them with names on the document. We quickly began recognizing the names on the list, as they matched many of the names we read as we peeled grass and dirt from the old monuments.

Last Friday (before our great discovery), we began our research on some of the people buried at Woodland in the Confederation era. Sunny and MacKenzie conducted fruitful research on people such as John Walker and Hiram Lee, as Peter and I combed the London Free Press archives at Western’s D.B. Weldon Library. We looked through the newspapers released in 1867, looking for important names and events taking place in London in order to gain a better understanding of life in London at the time of Confederation. We came across the name of the Mayor of London at the time, Frank Smith, and Alderman John Campbell, who became mayor later in the 1970s.

It has been a very exhausting, but extremely rewarding week. I have learned new skills in conservation and restoration, and I have enhanced my research skills throughout the week as we began to uncover more and more of our discovery. The media exposure was daunting at first, but the support our team has given each other have helped us develop confidence in our public speaking skills, whether it be in front of a camera, microphone, or old-fashioned pen and paper.

Although we have enjoyed our work this week, we will all be happy to have the time to recharge this weekend so that we can get back to it next week! We are so thankful for all of you who read our blog and are following our social media pages. It has been amazing to receive so much support and interest from the local community and look forward to sharing our further discoveries and research with you!