If you spend a lot of time in cemeteries, especially in Northern Ontario, you will start to notice the repetition of certain symbols and motifs. In Ontario and Quebec, something I have come across frequently is handmade stones.
These stones have been lovingly hand-poured in cement, adorned with crucifixes, stones, and other baubles, and usually have hand lettering. They are beautiful representations of love for those who have passed. There could be many reasons why a handmade stone was created, and each one is unique and beautiful with its own charm.
I love finding handmade stones and have photographed many over the years. I wanted to share some of them with you.
I wrote a post last week reminiscing about cemetery road trips. It may have been a bad idea as it made me want to plan one even more!
This year, just like last, I have been spending a lot of time with my Mom. We have been visiting different local walking trails as something to see and do while we are in lockdown due to COVID-19. This year we have started visiting provincial parks that are close by to visit their hiking trails. This gave me an idea!
Why not stop at local cemeteries that are along the way or close to our destination? And so the mini road trip was born!
My Mother is fairly used to me making pit stops on the way to our hiking trails, but this past weekend, I deliberately drove out of my way to visit 2 cemeteries. I did a bit of research and found the locations of two cemeteries I have been wanting to visit for a long while now. One in Britt, and one in Byng Inlet. An old co-worker of mine told me about a very old and interesting cemetery in Byng Inlet that I should visit. This was several years ago. It just happens to be across the river from Britt, and another cemetery I have wanted to visit for a while.
We drove to Byng Inlet first with the plan of visiting Britt and Grundy Lake Provincial Park as we made our way back towards home. We enjoyed the drive and I was pleasantly surprised by what we found.
In Byng Inlet, we found Magnetawan Cemetery which looked to be a small family cemetery, as well as two very old cemeteries. Sitting right on the side of the highway sits the cemetery of Saint John the Divine (1911-1931) and beside it, the cemetery of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church (1911-1924). Both of these cemeteries are partially hidden by the wild forest that has sprouted up around them. I was only able to find one stone at the cemetery of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church. It was an obelisk-style stone, that had sadly fallen to the ground. The cemetery of Saint John the Divine had about 10 stones that I was able to find, including one military grave. I was very excited by this find.
In Britt, we stopped at a small cemetery across from a small white church – the Britt Holy Family Church Cemetery. This small little cemetery, on the bank of a river, holds a mix of old and modern stones. The oldest stone we found was a family grave. Capt. Peter Archabel McIntosh, who drowned at the Bustard Island in 1906, and his wife Lillie Clovetier who passed away in 1905.
After realizing that that was not the cemetery I was looking for, we traveled a bit farther and found not one, but two more cemeteries; the Britt and area community cemetery and the Holy Family Roman Catholic New Cemetery. That made a total of six cemeteries we visited that day.
We walked among the stones for a little while, while I snapped away with my camera. Interestingly enough, there is a campground adjacent to the Holy Family Roman Catholic New Cemetery, filled with RV’s and trailers – with some of them backed up right against the cemetery.
After our cemetery visits, we headed to Grundy lake to stop for a picnic lunch and then go for a hike through their Swan Lake trail. It’s a beautiful trail and was a great way to end our adventures that day.
I think this trip may have started a new tradition of cemetery visits, picnic lunches, and hiking trails. I mean it’s not a bad way to spend time outside during a pandemic.