Walking Adventures: Toronto Necropolis

The best thing about having free time in the summer is having the opportunity to throw on some comfortable walking shoes (bright orange and pink Nikes in my case) and explore Toronto on foot. Summer is so fleeting, I feel like all opportunities to go adventuring must be taken before snow falls.

This week, Mikaius and I went to the Toronto Necropolis. Our route took us from Robarts Library to the heart of Old Cabbagetown, a walk that was a very sweaty fifty minutes to an hour. The weather was a muggy 25 degrees, and the twist cone we shared helped very little in cooling us down. Still great-tasting soft-serve, though.

Robarts

According to Wikipedia, Toronto Necropolis opened in 1850 as a replacement for Potter’s Field and is one of the City’s oldest and most historic cemeteries. Luminaries of Canadian history are buried there, including such names as George Brown, Thornton Blackburn and Jack Layton. The fully-restored chapel and cemetery entrance are, according to the Mount Pleasant Group website, “some of Toronto’s finest examples of High Victorian Gothic architecture.”

Cemeteries have always made me feel calm and peaceful, and the Toronto Necropolis was no different. We managed to get there just before magic hour, and by the time we were walking around the far edges of the area the mosquitoes were out in full force. But it was beautiful and heartbreaking to read the dates and inscriptions on the memorials. So many stories. So many heartbreaks and successes, reduced to one-liners. There were also different religions represented among the stones, sitting there peacefully in quiet repose.
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Inside the restored chapel: the atmosphere inside still inspired reverence, even if there was no service going on at the moment. The stained glass was beautiful. I now feel like I should have taken a photo of it up close, but while I was there it felt wrong to approach the altar to take a photo of the window behind it.
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The entrance to the Necropolis. The first thing I thought of when I laid eyes on it was “Anne of Green Gables!” I don’t have the slightest idea why that particular book came to mind.

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Another shot of the Necropolis entrance, with the chapel tower.
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I think that of all the memorials in the park, this was the one that made my heart ache the most. It’s a memorial raised by a family to remember their three infant sons who all died in infancy – in different years, too. There is something primal and heartbreaking about the thought of parents mourning their children – as Theoden said in the Two Towers, “No parent should have to bury their own child.”
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I found this marker interesting because of the device (?) affixed to it. It reminded me of Underworld, and their version of the vampire story!
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Again, there were markers with only “mother” or “father” or first names carved on them. We really must make the time to go on the ROM walks, I need to know why these don’t bear any names.
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Magic hour.
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One of the vaults we saw, except that this one was walled in and locked up. The rational mind would think that this was to prevent looters from going in. My mind immediately wanders away to supernatural explanations like zombies and vampires.

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The Necropolis’ entrance as seen from the inside.

2 thoughts on “Walking Adventures: Toronto Necropolis

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