Blog updates & more…

I realize I owe you all a blog post after missing last Sunday, but I don’t have anything that is quite ready to share with you yet. I have a few posts that I have been working on, but more research is needed. So instead, this will be an update, to share what I have been working on and what you can look forward to on the blog in the coming months. 

Most recently, I have been working on a piece inspired by Death’s Garden Revisited, edited by Loren Rhoads. My piece is about my own personal connection to cemeteries. After speaking with my Mother about the subject, it created more questions than answers. As we chatted we uncovered our own little family cemetery mystery, which sent me down yet another research rabbit hole. I’m sure you all will find that story very interesting. 

I have also been saving a cemetery story, especially for this month, as February is the anniversary of this local tragedy. I need a little more time to work through the research and sort through my photos from last summer’s road trip. That will be another post to look forward too.

Along with writing and creating content for the blog, I have also been taking an online course to sharpen my writing skills. The course is through Atlas Obscura and is called Historical Nonfiction: Research-based writing with Hadley Meares. This 4-week course promises to help you write historical essays using a research-based lens. I am on week 3 of the course and it has already solidified the good writing habits I already had while introducing new habits, methods, and resources to my writer’s toolbox. I look forward to sharing the article that comes from completing the course. 

Amidst all this writing I have also been updating the portfolio section of my website. I have posted many additions to my existing web portfolios and have added some new ones entirely. Sorting through, editing, and posting my archive of cemetery photos has been a great way to look back at all the cemetery adventures I have had over the years.

I have also been working on researching some new areas and cemeteries to visit. I have some great cemetery road trips already planned for this summer and can’t wait to get back on the road and photographing. I plan on visiting Owen Sound, for part two of Chasing Tom Thomson, while also stopping in at some fun interesting spots along the way. I also have another trip planned for early spring which will include my first visit to a loyalist cemetery, and seeing table stones in person. I’m pretty excited about that trip.

I have also been busy getting some submissions ready for a local photography contest, and a gallery showing. I am not quite sure how my cemetery work will be received, but I think they could be great opportunities to get my work out there, regardless of the outcome.

Hopefully, some of these upcoming posts sound interesting and will have you coming back to read more. As always, if you have any book or cemetery recommendations, or cemetery stories of your own to share, please leave me a comment or send me an email at hello@chantallarochelle.ca

Thanks for reading! 

A Collection of Doves

This week, I had originally planned on posting a cemetery recipe for Red Lantern Cheese dip, from the gravestone of Debra Ann Nelson. But, I had some issues finding the correct ingredients and the recipe didn’t turn out as expected. So I will continue my hunt for the elusive ingredients. 

Instead, this week I will share a collection of Dove’s. If you have been following this blog for a little while, you may have noticed that I sometimes like to share collections of my favorite photos of some of the cemetery symbols I find on my cemetery walks. I have been photographing cemeteries for over 15 years, and in that time I have noticed some repetition of certain symbols and motifs. I find cemetery symbolism so interesting and love looking at what the different variations of a symbol mean.

Doves are not as common a symbol as lambs in Northern Ontario, but they represent similar ideas. Doves commonly are a symbol of peace, but when used in funerary art, they also represent innocence and the Holy Spirit. Doves may appear in many forms, such as sculpture or bas-relief. There are also different variations of doves, and each carries additional meaning.

Sometimes a dove may be depicted carrying something in its mouth. A dove with an olive branch in its mouth may represent peace. This symbolism also can be traced to Ancient Greece. A dove carrying a broken flower bud in its mouth often symbolizes a life cut short. 

The position and angle of the dove may have some significance as well. A dove flying downward is thought to represent the Holy Spirit coming down from heaven.

Another variation of a dove you might find, is a dove that looks like it might be dead. A dead dove sadly represents a life cut short. This variation may also be found lying in front of, or on top of a tree stump; which is also a symbol of a life cut short.

Have you come across a different variation of this symbol? I would love to hear about it in the comments.

Thanks for reading!


References:

  1. Understanding Cemetery Symbols: A Field Guide for Historic Graveyards by Tui Snider
  2. Stories in Stone: The Complete Guide to Cemetery Symbolism by Douglas Keister

Year in Review – 2022

2022 has been a very good year for Cemetery Photography by Chantal Larochelle!

I wanted to take this opportunity to look back at some of the highlights and achievements from this past year.

My biggest goal for 2022 was consistency. It has been an issue that I have struggled with for years. I finally found myself working and maintaining a consistent posting schedule on the blog. The top 5 most viewed posts on the blog this year were: Haunted Cemetery Road Trip – The Beck HouseA Gift Guide for TaphophilesMy Local Haunted CemeteryFinding the abandoned Happy Valley cemetery, and 25 Cemeteries in the City of Greater Sudbury. It’s an amazing feeling to share these stories with you, and grow this passion project of mine.

2022 was a year full of adventure! I visited 78 cemeteries this year and was able to break my record for the number of cemeteries visited in one day—15. A personal best! I visited my first pet cemetery and went on many fun and fascinating cemetery road trips. There are a few that stand out, like hiking through Algonquin Provincial Park and finding the first grave of Tom Thomson. That was a bucket list trip for me, and one of my biggest adventures so far. A lot of planning and research went into that trip, and the journey was incredibly worth it. Spending the night at the haunted Beck House was another highlight for me. Haunted holidays with my fiancé are always my favorite, but this year will be hard to top. This beautiful victorian style mansion is beautiful on its own, but its history makes it even more interesting. We had an amazing visit and made sure to pay our respects to the Becks, at their family mausoleum. I look forward to sharing more cemetery road trip adventures from 2022 but I am excited to see what 2023 will bring.

I am amazed at the following I have been able to foster on my social media channels. Over 2 000 followers on Instagram! Wow, what a milestone! Thank you to everyone who has liked, followed, commented, and shared my social and website posts. It means the world to me. I am so proud to be part of the online cemetery community, and love connecting with like-minded taphophiles. Because of this, I have branched out from Facebook and Instagram to Flickr and Pinterest as well. 

Cemetery Photography by Chantal Larochelle, Top Nine images on Instagram for 2022

This year has also been one of recognition! I am so thankful to all those who have shared my posts and photos. Not only was I featured in the March 2022 Ancestor Hunting newsletter, under Links we like. I was also asked by the Sudbury Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society to write something for their newsletter. My post Cemetery Symbolism in Sudbury District Cemeteries was published in the December issue of Ancestor Hunting. My Gift Guide for Taphophiles also garnered some attention and was shared in the Association for Gravestone Studies November e-newsletter. 

I feel that I am continuing to grow in my writing and am slowly finding my voice. I love sharing my cemetery adventures and am so happy that I have found an audience. I hope to continue my growth as a writer into the new year, by honing my skills and sharing even more stone stories and insights.

Thank you to everyone who has followed along with me on this journey! Sharing my passion for cemeteries with you all has been an amazing experience. I look forward to continuing to share my photography and adventures with you and seeing what 2023 will bring.

Happy New Year Everyone!