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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

A Walk Among The Tombstones

For once I'm going to be serious. Oh, shush, no laughing. I can be serious. When I want to be. On occasion. Just not when introducing what's supposed to be a straight forward post.

On Good Friday, I decided to spend the day here in Ottawa visiting of all things, two cemeteries, both large ones. The purpose was some material for my photoblog, which will be forthcoming in early May. I went to Notre Dame Cemetery, and then to Beechwood Cemetery, which is the source of these shots today.

Beechwood is a national cemetery, with the graves of prominent Canadians, including a prime minister, a governor general, political figures, writers, engineers, athletes, business people, artists, scientists, and every day citizens. It also has grounds set aside as an RCMP national cemetery, and for the National Military Cemetery.

There's some sort of thought that goes around that graveyards are creepy places, but I find them quite peaceful. Both Notre Dame and Beechwood were. This is the larger of the two, at 160 acres (Notre Dame consists of 20 hectares). Both date from the 1870s, and are still seeing new burials and interments. Both have mausoleums.

Beechwood's main building also features a large inter faith chapel that surprised me- no one symbol here of any faith, and yet it felt appropriate if a funeral needs to be held in here. The staff were also helpful; they provided maps to the grounds, particularly in terms of where prominent grave sites can be found. At most of those, a plaque can be found nearby giving details on the individual.

I wandered along the paths for quite awhile, photographing as I went along, gathering material for posts (there'll be several days of cemetery posts when the time comes). 

Along the way I paid visits to the two sections of the National Military Cemetery. Here are buried veterans of world wars and military service, even long after their days in the military were done. The tombstones, done according to the standards of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, stand sentinel over those interred here. This is the older of the two sections, filled with veterans. I can tell you that walking among them, looking at names, at the simplicity of the stones, was very moving. I will be featuring a full series on this over at the photoblog in May, so have a look when the time comes. I hope you've enjoyed this brief glance at Beechwood.


  1. I've always loved walking through cemeteries. I think they're beautiful.

  2. I absolutely love cemeteries. They each have their own story to tell. I put my stories together as I move through them. My favorites are in Louisiana. Nice pictures!

  3. What a nice place. It looks very peaceful.

  4. You'll have to go to Europe one day where they seem to have angel statues all over the cemeteries. The sculptures can take your breath away. This is definitely a serious post but perfect for Good Friday reflections. Were you paying respects to family members along the way?

  5. @Kelly: this one certainly is.

    @Diane: there's one in Toronto that I remember visiting in high school. It was called the Necropolis, and it was quite an experience.

    @Lady Fi: it was. Quite a long walk, adding in both cemeteries, the distance between them, and a stop I made between them as well.

    @JE: it was.

    @Eve: I went more to visit the places, no relations there. I'd never been to either cemetery. That said, standing in this section of the military cemetery that I show at the end, it was emotional. I imagine that's a common reaction.

  6. Yes, they are quiet peaceful. You captured that. I've always loved to walk through old cemeteries. The stonework can be fabulous and family plots can tell a story.

  7. Far from feeling that cemeteries are "creepy," I have always enjoyed walking through them, especially ones where the tombstones are very old. It's always fascinated me to read the inscriptions on many of these. Looking forward to your future photo blog.

  8. What a beautiful day and setting! Sounds like a lovely day to explore and get some great photos.

  9. I've taken pictures of cemeteries too. Very nice pictures.

  10. I love cemeteries, too. Large ones and small ones. Even old homeplace ones we occasionally run across.

    And a chapel for everyone, not devoted to just one faith, is perfect for a cemetery!

  11. @Mari: they are.

    @Beatrice: I like visiting them.

    @Meradeth: it was a good day.

    @Lorelei: they're photogenic.

    @Cheryl: thanks!

    @Norma: me!


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