Monday, October 18, 2010

Eternal Rest

I headed out today to go see an area of town I heard about through some research on the Internet. But I must have gotten mixed up on where I was going because I didn't really see much. So another time.

Funny thing though. I live about half a mile from first street east and I was headed to fiftieth street east. Now logic would dictate that fiftieth would be about forty nine blocks from first. Not here. It is closer to sixty five blocks south and then I still had to walk a few blocks east. My legs and feet are sore. But I saw some neat things along the way.

Aren't those colors gorgeous? All over I see blossoms that seem to be hanging on even if fall is and the time to go to sleep is near. I think that maybe the flowers are competing with the vibrant hues of the trees.

Whatever the reason we get the benefit of the competition.

Even though what I first went to see didn't work out I did find something else.

While walking along 41st Street I happened to see a cemetery. And what a cemetery! Mountain View Cemetery occupies 106 acres with 92,000 grave sites and 145,000 interred remains. I walked along Fraser street and I am sure that the cemetery took up ten city blocks.

Mountain View Cemetery was opened in 1887 - the only cemetery that is older in this area is the Fraser Cemetery in New Westminster which was opened in 1870 - and then it was between Fraser Street, 37th Avenue, 33rd  and a row of tall trees on the west. In 1901 land was purchased from the Horne Family; the Jones Farm to the south was added in 1910 and in 1922 more land from the Horne family expanded the cemetery to the west. A section of the graveyard between 41st and 43rd  is entitled the 1919 Addition and contains many victims of the 1918 Spanish Flu Epidemic that not only ravished Vancouver but the rest of the world as well.

The final addition to the cemetery is Abray Park Addition on the west side in 1941. This tract of land was so named because of a squatter who used to live there, tended an orchard and grazed cattle on the land.

The deceased tend to be grouped by religion or nationality or organizational affiliation or pauper graves or military. The Mountain View Cemetery does have Canadian military graves.

Some of the famous of our city have had their remains left here as well.

Jonathon Rogers - the first man who stepped off the first passenger train to arrive in Vancouver and who later went on to own much of Granville Street.

Janet Smith - a.k.a The Scottish Nightingale. In 1924 Ms. Smith was a 22 year old Scottish nursemaid who was found dead in the home of a prominent family in Shaugnessy Heights. A young Chinese man was charged with murder but the case has never been solved.

There was an episode of either DaVinci's Inquest or DaVinci's City Hall that used this case as inspiration if I remember correctly.

Robertha Josephine Marshall - a survivor of the sinking of the Titanic.

Malcolm MacLennan - Chief Constable of the Vancouver Police, killed in the line of duty in 1917. (I have written on him and his tragic demise.)

Sara Anne McLagan - first woman newspaper publisher in Canada. Born in Belfast Ireland Sara came to Canada with her father  when she was three. Her father, Sergeant John C. Maclure came to New Westminster in 1858. He taught his daughter telegraphy which proved beneficial when the girl was 12 and fire threatened her Matsqui home she tapped a message to New Westminster for help. Two years later the teen was hired by the New Westminster Telegraph Office. She went on to start the Vancouver Daily World with her husband, John McLagon.

Thomas Ladner - the man who founded Ladner British Columbia is buried here.

Harry Jerome - Olympic runner. Jerome competed in the 1960, 1964 and 1968 Summer Olympics. He brought home the 100 metre bronze medal in 1964. He is also responsible for setting seven world records. He died at the age of 42 of a brain aneurysm. Interesting fact. Jerome's grandfather John Howard represented Canada at the 1912 Summer Olympics. His sister, Valerie Jerome, competed for Canada at the 1960 Summer Olympics.

Doesn't it look peaceful? Just the place where Victoria Cross recipients can spend all eternity. Or at least their remains. And for those of you who aren't aware the Victoria Cross is the highest military award given for valour in the face of the enemy. It is given to those in the armed forces of Britain and various Commonwealth couintries.

The Victoria cross was first given out on January 29, 1856 by Queen Victoria to soldiers from the Crimean War. The medal has only been awarded 1,356 times in 154 years so it is rare and those who have it must have really deserved it. In the last two decades though some countries of the Commonwealth have established their own version of the Victoria Cross so the one from England is now referred to as Commonwealth Victoria Cross or Imperial Victoria Cross.

Harry Churchill Beet - Victoria Cross awarded for actions during the Second Boer War.

John Chipman Kerr - Victoria Cross awarded after World War I.

Robert McBeath - Victoria Cross awarded after World War I. Scottish born McBeath also went on to become a Vancouver Police Constable who was killed during the line of duty.

I don't know what was going on here. There were piles of headstones on the side of the cemetery. Perhaps they were replaced with new ones?
This is also home to the Vancouver Crematorium. Scottish born Victoria Cross recepient Robert Shankland was cremated and his ashes scattered at the cemetery in 1968.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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