(SHERBROOKE) Nestled on a hillside in a quiet corner of the Old North, the Elmwood Cemetery is undoubtedly one of the best kept secrets of Sherbrooke. Apart from the members of the English community, few Sherbrooke know indeed that this bucolic place where yet based a significant part of the history of this city.
Merely accessing the Hyatt Street (named after the founder of Sherbrooke) enough to give the visitor the impression that time has stood still in 1890, when the cemetery was inaugurated. As long as we look at the history of Sherbrooke and its builders, the Elmwood Cemetery immediately stands out as a must so its tombstones are evocative.
Douglas Guthrie, president of the Corporation of Elmwood Cemetery, is particularly proud of the conservation status of the premises. Especially proud to see that his predecessors have always been able to preserve the unique and intimate nature for 126 years.
“There are not many cemeteries like this in Quebec,” stresses emphatically the retired teacher, 80 years old, pointing to the hills on which are arranged to the 7,200 tombstones that mark the trails the English cemetery. “In my view, there are not many cemeteries of this size can boast of having buried seven deputies and senators,” he added, referring to Samuel Brooks and Charles B. Howard.
Several other names that have marked the history of Sherbrooke buried there. Just think of industrialist Andrew Paton (1892), Judge William Ives (1899), President of the Eastern Townships Bank, William Farwell, businessman James Mitchell Simpson (1920) and his wife Isabella McKekhnie (1941). The inventor of the first gasoline car in Canada, George Foote Foss, was buried there in 1968. Like Andrew S. Johnson, one of the pioneers of the asbestos industry in Canada, the vast stone gray gravestone overlooking the cemetery.
Contrary to what many believe, the former member for Sherbrooke to commute and one of the fathers of Confederation, Alexander T. Galt, not part of the seven deputies and senators interred at Elmwood. By cons, we discover that Lady Mary Louisa King, wife of Sir Joseph-Adolphe Chapleau (5th Premier of Quebec), is buried … but away from her husband whose body rests in the cemetery Notre Dame des Neiges in Montreal .
The Elmwood Cemetery also has its share of mass graves, including some bearing the image of the Masonic lodges that were widespread in the region in the 19th century. Another mass grave for the dead soldiers during World War throne since 1939 at the south end of the cemetery, on the initiative of the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire.
Each year, on average, thirty burials take place today at Elmwood Cemetery. As everywhere else, funerary urns are the majority of burials, says Brenda Smith, secretary of the Corporation.
Another phenomenon which the Elmwood Cemetery faced in recent years, says president Douglas Guthrie, is that of customs related to different cultural communities.
“We had to refuse requests of Muslims who wanted to be buried here, he says, because they asked us to ensure that their graves can not see cross. With the number of crosses that we have, it was impossible to respond to their request. ”
The history of Elmwood cemetery would not be complete without mentioning the episode of Union Cemetery.
Between 1908 and 1919, the bodies and the remains of 895 people have been unearthed from the cemetery Union, located Belvédère Street South (near Galt Ouest), to be transferred to Elmwood Cemetery.
“The case was a lot of noise at the time, said Douglas Guthrie, president of the Elmwood Cemetery, referring to the archives he could consult about it. The fact of unearthing one body is already quite an adventure, imagine the act of digging up more than 800, “he said
The Union cemetery had been founded by the Protestant community in 1849. But over the years, the site has rapidly deteriorated to the point where the church Plymouth Trinity had to consider its closure.
“It became a disreputable place, said Mr. Guthrie. The site was known to be a place of fornication, binge drinking and everything you can imagine. ”
Taking advantage of the fact that the City of Sherbrooke also looking for new industrial land, negotiations were undertaken between the church and Plymouth Trinity administrators Elmwood cemetery so that they agree to host the body and the remains of the cemetery Union.
895 body moved, 550 were claimed by their family members, namely: 371 adults and 179 children. The 345 unclaimed bodies, there were 188 adults and 157 children. These are based in an identified area for this purpose at the entrance of the cemetery.
In all, 116 headstones and monuments were moved. Scattered throughout the cemetery, these can be identified by the death dates, prior to 1890, when was founded on Elmwood Cemetery.