A Better Place: Death and Burial in Nineteenth-Century Ontario

A Better Place: Death and Burial in Nineteenth-Century Ontario

Susan Smart

Language: English

Pages: 208

ISBN: 1554888999

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

A Better Place describes the practices around death and burial in 19th-century Ontario. Funeral rituals, strong religious beliefs, and a firm conviction that death was a beginning not an end helped the bereaved through their times of loss in a century where death was always close at hand.

The book describes the pioneer funeral in detail as well as the factors that changed this simple funeral into the elaborate etiquette-driven Victorian funeral at the end of the century. It includes the sources of various funeral customs, including the origins of embalming that gave rise to the modern-day funeral parlour. The evolution of cemeteries is explained with the beginnings of cemeteries in specific towns given as examples.

An understanding of these changing burial rites, many of which might seem strange to us today, is invaluable for the family historian. In addition, the book includes practical suggestions for finding death and burial records throughout the century.


















Sawchuk, University of Toronto at Scarborough, (n. p. 1997). 5. Barkin and Gentles, “Death in Victorian Toronto, 1850–1899,” 15–6. 6. Author’s research, 1997. 7. “Railroad Casualties,” Markdale Standard, page 3, column 3. 8. “Fatal Accident on the T. G. & B. R. R. ,” Markdale Standard, page 3, column 3. 9. Covey, The American Pilgrimage, 7. 10. Epitaph from the tombstone of John Wells, died August 30, 1866, age 42 years, 6 months, and 15 days. Petchville Cemetery/Wesley Pioneer Cemetery, 6. 11. Ariès, The Hour of Our Death, 24.

07/ Mar. 08) in The Best of the Branches, Ruth Chernia, ed. Toronto: Ontario Genealogical Society, 2008. Machar, Agnes Maule. The Story of Old Kingston. Toronto: The Musson Book Company Limited, 1908. Internet Archive, www. archive. org. MacKay, Reverend W. A. Pioneer Life in Zorra. Toronto: William Briggs, 1899. Internet Archive, www. archive. org. Martyn, Lucy Booth. A View of Original Toronto. Sutton, ON: The Paget Press, 1983. Medland, Harvey. Tombstone Tales from Ontario Cemeteries. Toronto: The Ontario Historical Society, 2000.

12. Fordyce, “Letters of a Pioneer,” 26. 13. Haydon, Pioneer Sketches in the District of Bathurst, 69. 14. “Old Times in Ontario,” Toronto Star, 20 December 1958, 8. 15. Pelletier, Years of Grace: Richmond Hill Presbyterian Church 1817–1980, 10. 16. Ibid. , 11–2. 17. Hancocks, Potter’s Field Cemetery 1826–1855. 18. Rotundo, “Monumental Bronze: A Representative American Company,” 263–70. Chapter 6 The Establishment of Cemeteries in Three Towns To heaven I hope my husband’s gone To him in time I hope to come In love we lived, in peace he died Life was desired, but God denied.

These books can also be downloaded and saved on your computer in PDF format. Google Books, books. google. com, is another source of books, but this site is more useful for searching what books might be available for a particular topic. There are very few books on this site that are full versions for reading online. Good sources for finding out if any historical information is available for your geographical place of interest are two books written by Barbara Aitken, Local Histories of Ontario Municipalities 1987–1997: A Bibliography, and the follow-up book Local Histories of Ontario Municipalities 1997–2007: A Bibliography, both available from the Ontario Genealogical Society.

In any event, the loved one was placed in a location that was accessible and in which other family members could hope to be buried. Cemeteries in the Countryside William Caniff has a very descriptive account of how the pioneer settlers handled death and burial when they first started to settle the land: Burying places in all the new settlements were, as a general thing, selected by the family to which death might first come. This was true of every part of America. Ere the forest had fallen before the hand of the axeman, or while the roots and stumps of the trees yet thickly encumbered the ground, before the scythe had been used to cut the first products of the soil, the great reaper death passed by, and one and another of the number were cut down.

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