Torottawalk explores cemeteries! Not nearly as spooky as it sounds. We’re blessed in Toronto with many expansive cemeteries that act as a record of our history, and a culture of land use that makes cemeteries a place for the living as well as the resting.
When I was in high school (Cardinal Newman – what what) after the 1h 30m commute from Scarborough, there was the 15 minute walk through a cemetery. Morbid for some, but I always liked it. It offered a purposeful green space with elements of long forgotten history, in addition to the fact that just by passing through, I was trespassing.
Prospect Cemetery, named for its curvilinear path that exposes continual vistas to its visitors, is Torottawalk’s first cemetery – and one of the oldest in Toronto. It’s entirely different from the closed-off cemetery of my youth, and hopefully gifted with better views and staff than those that chased me off the grounds for 4 years.
The cemetery, apart from offering some of the oldest graves in the city – the site was initially established in 1887 – also showcases some top notch modernist architecture, two ravines, a trout stream, and views of Lake Ontario and the Humber River Valley.
The property, in the heart of Earlscourt, has a rich neighborhood history too. The area was settled – less than ten years after the cemetery was put in place – by labourers from the British Isles. Apparently:
“In addition to their work at the local factories, Earlscourt families would toil day and night building meagre tar and paper shacks, as temporary homes until enough money was saved to build a proper brick house.
The spiritual leader of the Earlscourt community during these difficult times was the Reverend Peter Bryce. Each night, Bryce would trek through Earlscourt’s muddy streets, aided only by a lantern and a pair of high boots. His visits were said to have offered hope and inspiration to many families.
The quality of life in Earlscourt began to improve once it was annexed by the City of Toronto, in 1910.”