Q is for…
…the Quaint Old Burying Ground
While you can read an extensive history of the old burying ground at the Old Cemeteries Society of Victoria site (http://www.oldcem.bc.ca/psp/html/reports/history/index.htm), here are some interesting notes:
- The first burial in the old burying ground was in 1855
- In 1859, the City moved buried folks from the original Fort Victoria cemetery to the old burying ground
- The old burying ground was closed in 1873. Why? See my interesting story below…
- In the early part of the 20th century, someone had the brilliant idea to remove most of the headstones. Chaos ensued!
A bit of an interesting story for the old burying ground. It got crowded – very crowded very, very quickly. Apparently there are over 1,300 people buried there, in what is a very tiny area of land. Once it got too crowded to add more, they set up Ross Bay Cemetery (see “R”), and over time, the old burying ground became overgrown, tombstones were vandalized, and records were lost. No one knew for sure who was buried there, or where they were buried. Please do take the time to read about the full history – it’s a really cool story!
According to the Old Cemeteries Society of Victoria (you have to LOVE a city that celebrates cemeteries, and give guided tours of them every Sunday!), there was a project undertaken in 2009 to map out the old burying ground. At the Old Cemeteries Society of Victoria website, you can find a burial database and a walking tour of the old burying ground (http://www.oldcem.bc.ca/cem_pn.htm). Very cool!
I like the old burying ground, although it doesn’t always feel safe to me – not due to the dead, mind you. There are often people sleeping or camped out in the park, so when I do go, it’s in the daytime. It seems like, however, a very restful place. And, of course, as with most good old cemeteries, there are ghost stories. According to the Vancouver Island Paranormal Society, there are a couple of spirits hanging out in the old burial ground. I don’t know. I think most folks would rather haunt where they lived than where they were buried, but that’s just me.
Below I present a few pictures I took on a recent visit to the old burying ground. Also, if you go to the Old Cemeteries Society of Victoria, you will find a wonderful picture gallery with pictures old and new that give you a taste of what the old burying ground must have looked like when it was full up. http://www.oldcem.bc.ca/psp/php/photo_gallery.php.
I just want to add here that I LOVE cemeteries. Someday, I am going to drive around the island and stop at every cemetery I see.
The restored section of the cemetery
This next one interested me particularly because it’s the person whom our street is named for!
Some of the monuments
The war memorial
Some of the other gravestones that remain (or, more likely, been replaced as part of the restoration process)
The cathedral in the background
Websites of Interest
- Old Burying Ground at Old Cemeteries Society if Victoria: http://www.oldcem.bc.ca/cem_pn.htm
- Vancouver Island Paranormal Society: http://www.vanisleparanormal.ca/the-old-burying-ground-pioneer-square/