Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Riverview's Dead

At the north end of Riverview Hospital, behind the hedge, which separates the hospital grounds from Lougheed highway, there is a manicured 3.6-acre lawn. This grassy area is bordered by a fence with homes on two sides and, to the south, a row of old oak trees.

What is so remarkable about this patch of grass you may ask? Why even mention it? There's nothing there, right? Take a closer look.

If you were walking through this area and looked down, you would see simple grave markers. These peaceful, green acres are where the dead of Riverview lie.

The headstones are simple, usually bearing only the patient's name and date of death. Sometimes there will be a remembrance like 'At peace, at last' but for the most part there isn't much information about the 1,085 bodies buried. Not on the gravestones and not in Riverview records. According to the hospital, the first deceased person was laid to rest in the Riverview cemetery in January of 1958. The last was the cremated remains of Jane Doe. Her skeleton was used for teaching purposes and it is believed that internment was held April 4, 2012.

Not all deceased mental patients were buried at Riverview though. 200 were laid to rest at the Coquitlam cemetery on Robinson Street and countless others were buried in New Westminster at a graveyard shared by the Provincial Hospital for the Insane.

Not all of them were mental patients either. Some were staff and others were family of the patients who wished to be buried near their loved ones.

In November of 2013, a retired reverend and Port Moody resident who served as a community support for the Riverview chaplaincy program held a multi-faith service to remember the people buried there.

Thanks to for the above information.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

Karen Magill

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