Mackenzie King generates some political capital

I rode or walked past William Lyon Mackenzie King‘s grave in Mount Pleasant Cemetery almost every day for three years until last month. Like most graves, not much changed from day to day. Other than a fresh floral arrangement placed on or near the ledger stone every week or two, it was pretty much the same all the time. This colourful yet reliably mundane official tribute got some company this spring when someone placed three rocks on the ledger. And then in early June, a wooden dowel carved into a candle flame and eight (and then thirteen) pennies appeared:

Thirteen pennies on Mackenzie King's grave marker

More coins were added to the pot over the next couple of weeks, until on June 27,  someone decided to turn the carved dowel and rocks into a slightly more obvious phallic symbol:

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Young buck

A young deer crosses the path in Mount Pleasant Cemetery

I frequently encounter joggers, walkers, cyclists, workers, rabbits, squirrels, and birds on my near-daily rides and walks through Mount Pleasant Cemetery, but this is the first time I’ve seen a deer. He was right near the Bayview entrance munching on some floral tributes before crossing the path to see what tasty treats await on the other side. I encounter deer often enough in the Don Valley that I’m not really surprised to see them in the city, but they usually bolt as soon as they see or hear you. This one walked almost straight toward me to get to the path—I moved twice to keep my distance—and didn’t seem fazed by any of the other people who passed no more than 15 metres away.

Also, I’m going to start carrying a real camera with me again; this phone camera just doesn’t cut it.

The death of logos #2

The Humphrey monument just outside the Mount Pleasant Mausoleum is instantly recognizable to anyone who travels past the Humphrey Funeral Home on Bayview just outside Mount Pleasant Cemetery.

Humphrey family monument in Mount Pleasant Cemetery

The Humphrey Funeral Home

The Humphrey monument is just a few steps away from the Weston monument previously featured in this space, and only about 2 km away from the funeral home.

The death of logos is an occasional series that looks at logos or wordmarks of organizations that appear on cemetery monuments.

Climbing the ladder

Monument in Mount Pleasant Cemetery

This is one of my favourite monuments in Mount Pleasant Cemetery. Like the last one that I highlighted, it depicts children at play. Or maybe at work in this case. I’m sure that I’m completely missing all kinds of symbolism here—why one leg of the ladder is cut off above the ground and why one of the climber’s boots is on the ground while he continues to ascend with a sock half off his foot, for starters—but I still appreciate the work that went into both the design and the execution. More views below the fold.

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The death of logos #1

The warmer weather of the last few weeks means that I’ve resumed my lunchtime explorations of Mount Pleasant Cemetery. One thing I’ve been noticing is that some people’s monuments are marked by the logos or wordmarks of the companies they ran, owned, or founded. The first example is W. Garfield Weston, son of eponymous company founder George Weston.

Garfield Weston's monument in Mount Pleasant Cemetery

Weston's wordmark on a bakery in Toronto

An afternoon read

Monument in Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto

Monument in Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto

Although I haven’t been doing much walking there this winter, one of the pleasures of exploring Mount Pleasant Cemetery in any season is admiring some of the unique monuments and memorials scattered throughout the grounds. Many of the most touching bronze monuments are reflections of childhood fun, like this one of two children sharing a book.

If you’re wondering, the book is blank.

The loud pipes of a what?

I am the loud pipes of a Harley…

The great thing about what is euphemistically called pre-need funeral planning is that you not only get to pick what goes on your headstone, but you get to admire it yourself. I can only assume that’s the explanation behind this seemingly pre-need headstone in Ashburn‘s Burns Cemetery. The inscribed poem is so familiar that the second rhyming couplet almost slips past without notice:

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am the loud pipes of a Harley, Chevy or Ford,
Or an Elvis song played in three chords.

I like it.


In memory of Jane Linton who died April 13, 1875 aged 74 years, 4 days

This marker is in Bethel Cemetery in Pickering.

If you walk through any cemetery that’s been in operation for more than a hundred years, you’ll soon notice two things. The first is the sheer number of children that used to die before they were old enough to crawl and how many families had two, three, or more children that didn’t live to their tenth birthdays.

The second is an unusual obsession with precision exhibited on many markers. I can understand marking a dead child’s age as three weeks or 22 days, but many of the markers for older people also include precise counts of months and days. It always seems a little odd to see a grandmother’s age tallied up in the same manner as a toddler’s.

A lot of people shy away from cemeteries, but I always find them fascinating. Taking a stroll through an old cemetery is like walking through a highly-condensed social history of a region. As you progress from older graves to newer ones, the names change, occupations shift, family relationships become clear, and tributes to achievements both major and minor abound.