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Cemeteries around the world – Mount Pleasant Cemetery

Mount Pleasant Cemetery is located north of the Moore Park in Toronto, Canada, and is considered one of the most famous cemeteries in the country, and is the final resting place of many prominent Canadians, including servicemen and politicians.

Mount Pleasant opened in November 1876, and was originally laid out by landscape architect Henry Adolph Engelhardt. The cemetery was recognised as a historic site by the Ontario Heritage Act in 2006 for its historic and architectural significance to the province.

The cemetery was built on an 81-hectare farm on Lot 19 Concession 3, belonging to the Cawthra family, who were important in the development of the city of Toronto. Mount Pleasant Road was later constructed to pass through the centre and is named after this cemetery.

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Mount Pleasant’s collection of trees makes it one of North America’s most significant arboretums. Large flower gardens, birds and other wildlife also enhance its natural beauty, alongside unique works of art found throughout the grounds in sculptures, artist-made memorials and shrines.

The cemetery features a mausoleum, which dates back to 1920, and is seen as a classic example of Georgian architecture, with granite exteriors and finely detailed bronze, marble and wood interiors.

The Garden of Remembrance is used for cremations and has a glass-roofed conservatory and five distinct areas, each with different physical features. These areas are called The Gateway of Hope, The Eternal Gardens, The Pool of Reflection, River of Memories and The Forest of Remembrance.

In 2009, the cemetery opened Mount Pleasant Visitation Centre, the building is approximately 2,200 square metres and was built with the intention to provide visitation space and chapel services.

More than 180,000 people have made Mount Pleasant their final resting place, with the cemetery still open for services. The cemetery has had remains and a number of stone markers moved from the Potter’s Field, as the urban expansion of Toronto eventually led to Mount Pleasant being situated in the centre of the city.

A number of Canadian servicemen who died during the World Wars have been interred at the cemetery. Mount Pleasant has 231 Commonwealth War Graves, comprising 126 burials in World War I and 105 in World War II, 188 are of the Canadian, and 43 the British, armed forces.

The cemetery also has multiple memorials erected in the grounds, including a memorial to commemorate the 109 lives lost in the crash of Air Canada Flight 621 on July 5, 1970, alongside memorials to lost servicemen.

Famous Burials

William Lyon Mackenzie King

William Lyon Mackenzie King was a politician and is the longest serving Prime Minister in Canadian history – leading the country for over 21 years. King graduated university with five degrees, he was first elected to Parliament as a Liberal in a by-election in 1908, and then in 1909 was appointed as the first-ever Minister of Labour.

King spent time working for John D. Rockefeller Jr, forming a close working relationship and friendship with the businessman, advising him through the 1914 strike and Ludlow massacre at a family-owned coal company in Colorado. He was elected Prime Minister three times, from 1921–26, 1926–30 and 1935–48 overseeing the Canadian war effort alongside the Allied Forces. He retired from office in 1948.

Charles Herbert Best

Charles Herbert Best was a medical scientist, well-known for co-discovering insulin. Best began his career in medicine after representing Canada in WWI. He worked as an assistant to surgeon Dr. Frederick Banting, in Toronto who pioneered insulin test, and successfully prepared insulin in a usable form.

In his later years, he was an adviser to the Medical Research Committee of the World Health Organisation, receiving numerous awards for his work, including an OBE in 1971 and was also posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2004.

Timothy Eaton

Timothy Eaton was a businessman known for establishing Eaton’s department store. After starting his early life in Ireland, Eaton purchased his first store, an existing dry-goods and haberdashery business in 1869. His store pioneered fix price items, and a money-back guarantee for goods.

His store offered mail-order in 1884 and became a household name during the 20th Century, at its peak it Eaton’s employed more than 70,000 people, and is viewed as one of the most important retail businesses in Canada’s history. Eaton died of pneumonia on 31 January 1907.

Kenneth Thomson

Kenneth Thomson was a businessman, most well-known his ownership media company Thomson Corporation. Thomson went into the media industry after serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force during WWII.

Upon his father’s death in 1976, he took over the leadership of the Thomas Corporation, he sold off previously owned newspapers including The Times and The Jerusalem Post, to focus on financial data services, becoming the largest in the world. Thomson was listed as the richest person in Canada at the time of his death, his wealth was estimated at $19.6bn, Thomson merged with Reuters in 2008.

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