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TORONTO NECROPOLIS:

SOCIAL STRATIFICATION WITHIN

THE CITY OF THE DEAD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prepared By: John Ramos

Prepared For: Dr. M. Latta

Student#: 990886591

Course Code: ANTC50H3

Date Due: Monday, July 28, 2003

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WARNING:

 

THE FOLLOWING MATERIAL MIGHT BE OFFENSIVE TO SOME READERS.  VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CAUTION!!!

HIGH FILLER MATERIAL AHEAD…

 

TORONTO NECROPOLIS:

SOCIAL STRATIFICATION WITHIN THE CITY OF THE DEAD

 

"Death is the only inescapable, unavoidable, sure thing. We are sentenced to die the day we're born."

-Gary Mark Gilmore

 

Background and Introduction

 

            Located on the upper east side of downtown Toronto in an area affectionately called “Old Town Toronto”, Toronto Necropolis is one of the city’s oldest and most historic sites.  Established in 1850, Necropolis is the earliest (and still functional) recognized non-denominational cemeteries and remains a beautiful testament to Toronto’s multicultural society (5).  Prominent residents of Necropolis include Toronto’s first mayor, William Lyon Mackenzie, journalist George Brown (and co-founder of the Globe and Mail), and championship rower Ned Hanlan (5).  Toronto Necropolis boasts its share of beautiful Victorian-style architecture and houses over 50,000 residents and counting.  Gorgeous stained-glass windows surround the chapel located at the entrance on Winchester Street, located adjacent to a large Victorian archway.  Situated along the Don River and Don Valley Parkway and located in between Winchester and Gerrard streets, Toronto Necropolis provides a picturesque environment for its mourners and commoners alike.

            From its initial conception to the present day, Toronto Necropolis has undergone significant changes.  These changes are in part, a reflection of the socio-cultural development that the urban metropolis of Toronto has been subjected to for the past 150 years.  Changes that take place within the living world are also reflected in mortuary behavior, which implies that a continued understanding of prehistoric mortuary behaviors (like that of the ancient Egyptians and Mesoamerican cultures), allow archaeologists to apply their knowledge in the comprehension of modern day burial practices (6).  Cemeteries have evolved to the point where they have been considered cities within cities.  Toronto Necropolis is no exception.

            The hypothesized origins of complex state-level societies are vast in amount, as anthropologists continue to explain how and why large urban centers came about.  But this transition from early hunter-gatherer societies to the modern, overpopulated metropolis is clearly evident, and the underlying cultural and ideological values that persist within these cities are also dynamic in nature and change with time as well.  Therefore, cemeteries can be seen as a "material expression of the systemic history of the community" (3).  Headstones and various grave goods have matured to a point where they are considered pertinent examples of individuality and extravagance, and serves as an indicator of varying socio-cultural values of a period in time and how they change over time.  They also provide insight into the cultural history within early communities.  Cemeteries have become modified to accommodate the specific values, perceptions and the social implications that exist within a characteristic society. 

            Much like most things on earth, cemeteries and traditional mortuary behaviors have changed and progressed through time.  Burials during the medieval times were usually anonymous and no administrative records were kept.  By the eighteenth century, religion started to play a dominant role in that cemeteries were usually situated alongside a church or religious center (Latta, 2003).  “Post death admittance” to these cemeteries where usually granted based on ones’ identity and/or belonging to a specific familial faction or religious group.  By the mid 1800s, there became a growing awareness of the “awkwardness” of having cemeteries located within urban centers.  A public concern of possible infectious diseases originating from a nearby cemetery led to a demand for a physical, geographical separation between the urban centers and cemeteries.  The only plausible solution was for cemeteries to be relocated to rural environments, where contamination and disease transmission were at a minimum.  This outgrowth of rural relocation was soon accompanied by the advent of cemetery associations, where burial plots were available for purchase and where some level of organization was established (Latta, 2003).  The latter half of the nineteenth century saw the transition of the traditional cemetery to a more scenic and inviting setting.  These new cemeteries were made more appealing as they were transformed into garden-like parks, where commoners were able to enjoy the local scenery, and were not restricted to mourners any longer.  Architecture also came into play as buildings and pathways were constructed to make the cemetery more accessible.  It showcased the beautiful unification of manmade technology within a natural, environmental backdrop.  This ultimately led to the arrival of modern day cemeteries, whose greenery and pleasant atmosphere distracts the usual taboo feeling of death, and allows people to enjoy their immediate surroundings, while being able to pay their respects.    

The purpose of this study is to examine specific features of Toronto Necropolis within a socio-cultural context, taking into account various aspects as it relates to changing ideologies that existed in the past.  A meticulous examination of two separate sections of the cemetery has been completed, from which the proceeding data has been provided.    

 

Methodology and Results

 

            All of the field data included in this study were obtained over a two-day period to Toronto Necropolis cemetery.  Due to the vast amount of resident burials, it seemed impractical to sample information from the 29 designated sections of the cemetery.  So instead, four major sections (Section B, C, D, & K; see map below) were used for the information sample.  These two, physically separated sections (Sections B, C & D can be considered as one major section) were chosen because of the physical differences between the two as well their accessibility to the public.  Section K was located at the heart of the cemetery and was bordered by the main road, whereas Sections B, C & D were located on the west side of the cemetery, (alongside Sumach street) for which access was permitted only by walking through the grass and other interments. 

            The data gathered from the tombstones included the names of the individuals, birth dates and death dates.  Relevant epitaphs and accessories displays (i.e. flowers) were also noted but play no significant factor within the study.  The data collected can be seen in the table below:   

 

Table 1

 

No.

Name

Birth

Death

Life Span

Sect.

1.

William Bell

1911

Sept. 18,1954

43 years

K

2.

Elizabeth Ann Bell

May 25,1848

Sept. 19,1926

78 years

K

3.

Janet Bell

Oct. 1,1854

Nov. 20,1930

76 years

K

4.

Janet Burns

1830

March 11,1888

58 years

K

5.

Joseph Alexander

1826

Aug. 24,1904

78 years

K

6.

Helen M. Equi

July 3,1892

Jan. 14,1893

6 months

K

7.

Louis Birch Equi

Apr. 28,1899

Oct. 1,1903

3.5 years

K

8.

William Birch Shaver

Mar. 22,1899

Oct. 12,1903

3.5 years

K

9.

Charles S. Brady

1881

1936

55 years

K

10.

Mildred Equi

1895

1983

88 years

K

11.

Toni Brady

1920

1993

73 years

K

12.

Charles S. Brady

1920

2000

80 years

K

13.

William John Equi

Sept. 19,1864

Dec. 3, 1948

84 years

K

14.

Vie Ella Birch

June 17,1865

April 21,1955

89 years

K

15.

Alexander Grimason

Aug. 9,1836

May 18,1886

49 years

K

16.

Jane Mearns

April 11,1837

Dec. 26,1910

73 years

K

17.

John Alexander

1860

1861

1 year

K

18.

Joseph Jackson

1861

1862

1 year

K

19.

Lilian Wilson

1874

1875

1 year

K

20.

Fannie Oliver

1876

1878

2 years

K

21.

Margaret Ann

1863

1892

29 years

K

22.

Alexander Mearns

Oct. 26, 1876

July 15, 1905

28 years

K

23.

William R. Orr

1818

Feb. 20, 1880

62 years

K

24.

Marianne Eccleston

1818

Sept. 11, 1906

88 years

K

25.

James Campbell

1810

July 13, 1890

80 years

K

26.

Janet Campbell

1811

June 19, 1868

57 years

K

27.

Josias Wilson

1848

July 23, 1870

22 years

K

28.

Edith Louisa

1870

April 24, 1886

16 years

K

29.

John Campbell

1840

July 30, 1904

64 years

K

30.

Edmu D. Grainger

1825

1872

47 years

K

31.

Harriet W. Grainger

1835

1886

51 years

K

32.

Minnie Grainger

1860

1918

58 years

K

33.

Lucas Fee

May 15,1872

Oct. 28,1897

25 years

K

34.

Jessie Isabel

Nov. 15,1888

Oct. 20,1890

2 years

K

35.

Frederick W. Fee

April 3,1876

Jan. 8,1880

4 years

K

36.

Mary Elizabeth Fee

Jan. 25, 1870

Oct. 10,1940

70 years

K

37.

Joseph Fee

Sept. 10, 1834

Feb. 21, 1912

78 years

K

38.

Robert R. Fee

Jan. 3,1875

March 18,1913

38 years

K

39.

Issac Clare

1801

Oct. 20, 1885

84 years

K

40.

Anne Jane Clare

1846

April 27, 1916

70 years

K

41.

Issac J. Clare

1860

Nov. 30, 1900

40 years

K

42.

William A. Wilker

1849

Aug. 12, 1920

71 years

K

43.

Annie Louise

1860

Aug. 30, 1923

63 years

K

44.

Arthur Leslie Willos

Feb. 12, 1869

Nov. 22, 1951

82 years

K

45.

William H. Rodden

1824

May 6, 1896

72 years

K

46.

Sarah Anne

1828

Sept. 21, 1899

71 years

K

47.

William T. Lundy

1853

Mar. 23, 1911

58 years

K

48.

Anne A. Lundy

1856

Jan. 12, 1931

75 years

K

49.

William Cottrell

1834

June 17, 1916

82 years

K

50.

Anna Bone

1837

May 18, 1919

82 years

K

51.

Ann Cottrell

1868

Aug. 31, 1870

2 years

K

52.

John Cottrell

1805

July 29, 1854

49 years

K

53.

Theophila Everdell

1801

April 4, 1875

74 years

K

54.

John R. Benson

1852

1942

90 years

K

55.

Robert Walker

1808

Oct. 5, 1885

77 years

K

56.

Mary Gardner

1812

Jan. 19, 1879

67 years

K

57.

Joseph Walker

1838

Jan. 18, 1893

55 years

K

58.

Jane Ann Walker

1841

Feb. 25, 1905

64 years

K

59.

John G. Walker

1836

Apr. 20, 1866

30 years

K

60.

Mary Watkins

1839

Aug. 27, 1869

30 years

K

61.

John Gardner

1866

1869

3 years

K

62.

Clowes Gardner

1863

1872

9 years

K

63.

Thomas Foster

May 5,1642

May 9, 1642

4 days

K

64.

Cyrus Foster

July 1847

Oct. 14, 1847

17 weeks

K

65.

George Foster

Nov. 15, 1854

Nov. 17, 1854

2 days

K

66.

Ross Hillock

March 1889

July 25, 1889

4 months

K

67.

Margaret V. Hillock

1888

Aug. 20, 1910

22 years

K

68.

Frank Hillock

Aug. 20, 1840

June 10, 1918

78 years

K

69.

Margaret J. Hillock

July 4, 1847

Aug. 13, 1913

66 years

K

70.

Frank S. Hillock

1883

Oct. 8, 1958

75 years

K

71.

Wallace Walton

1840

June 29, 1896

56 years

K

72.

Sarah Wilkinson

Jan. 31, 1921

Jan. 31, 1921

82 years

K

73.

William H. Howland

June 11, 1844

Dec. 12, 1893

49 years

K

74.

George Paterson

1817

April 2, 1899

82 years

K

75.

Ann Ford

1817

Feb. 6, 1899

82 years

K

76.

John Paterson

1845

April 4, 1869

24 years

K

77.

James Paterson

1848

March 26, 1873

25 years

K

78.

David A. Paterson

1865

May 13, 1873

8 years

K

79.

Amelia Kells Burk

Feb. 2, 1832

Aug. 3, 1902

70 years

K

80.

William H. Laird

June 26, 1868

May 14, 1873

5 years

K

81.

Nicholas Willoughlay

July 4, 1836

Feb. 25, 1906

69 years

K

82.

Thomas W. Brown

Nov. 16, 1860

March 22, 1930

69 years

K

83.

Anna Eliza Orr

Feb. 21, 1861

Aug. 5, 1956

95 years

K

84.

Elizabeth E. Brawn

Aug. 9, 1891

Nov. 23, 1957

66 years

K

85.

Anna Mary Brawn

Nov. 12, 1889

Jan. 20, 1972

82 years

K

86.

Hannah Worthington

1825

July 13, 1853

28 years

K

87.

John Worthington

1848

May 13, 1889

41 years

K

88.

Charlotte Reynolds

1849

Jan. 18, 1875

26 years

K

89.

James Henderson

Nov. 13, 1832

Feb. 10, 1915

82 years

K

90.

Catherine Henderson

May 1842

Dec. 1, 1914

69 years

K

91.

Gordon Henderson

Aug. 26, 1879

April 6, 1942

62 years

K

92.

Frederick A. Burgess

Mar. 30,1904

Dec. 30, 1973

69 years

K

93.

Helen F. Flach

July 12, 1908

Oct. 5, 1995

87 years

K

94.

Louise Tyler

June 21,1856

April 16,1900

43 years

D

95.

Elizabeth Mary Day

1877

1940

63 years

D

96.

Edward Charles Day

1877

1949

72 years

D

97.

Walter Jeffrey Day

1906

1963

57 years

D

98.

Jessie Louisa Day

1905

1976

71 years

D

99.

Robert Edward Day

1902

1990

88 years

D

100.

Dorothy Alice Day

1903

1936

33 years

D

101.

Vasil Manou

Dec. 26,1920

Aug. 22,1940

19 years

D

102.

Tanas Manou

Feb. 16, 1898

May 5,1966

68 years

D

103.

Stoyna Manou

Feb. 15,1897

March 3,1985

88 years

D

104.

John H. Kennedy

Aug. 2,1884

Feb. 2,1886

1.5 years

D

105.

William A. Kennedy

Sept. 14,1880

March 25,1938

57 years

D

106.

David B. Moses

Jan. 15, 1876

Sept. 4, 1959

83 years

D

107.

Louie R. C. Moses

July 15,1878

Feb. 9, 1963

84 years

D

108.

Henry James Hogarth

Jan. 30, 1899

June 1,1871

72 years

D

109.

Harriet Agnes

Nov. 5,1857

July 9, 1871

13 years

D

110.

Charlotte Elizabeth

Sept 1,1861

Jan. 26,1908

46 years

D

111.

George Hogarth

Oct. 5,1834

Oct 14, 1913

79 years

D

112.

Harriet McClure

Apr. 17, 1831

Jan. 17, 1928

96 years

D

113.

Finlay John McRae

Nov. 8,1860

Jan. 15,1926

65 years

C

114.

Jemima Mackenzie

Oct. 8,1863

April 15,1930

66 years

C

115.

Christina M. McRae

Jan. 28,1893

Nov. 29,1977

83 years

C

116.

Sarah Jane Gilmore

1854

1934

80 years

C

117.

Granville G. Beverly

Nov. 2,1850

May 26,1900

49 years

C

118.

Elizabeth Stamsby

Sept. 26, 1872

Feb. 14, 1950

76 years

C

119.

William Norris

May 18, 1869

May 22, 1959

90 years

C

120.

Henrietta Norris

July 28, 1891

Oct. 9, 1969

78 years

C

121.

Christine Neilson

June 23, 1879

Dec. 17, 1950

71 years

C

122.

Walter R. Lewis

June 12, 1880

Oct. 10, 1953

73 years

C

123.

Florence Sheila Duff

June 24, 1888

June 23, 1930

42 years

C

124.

Caroline Smith

1854

Nov. 24, 1929

75 years

C

125.

Alexander A. Fraser

June 22, 1859

Feb. 5, 1941

81 years

C

126.

Elizabeth Smith

Nov. 11, 1861

April 18, 1952

91 years

C

127.

Elizabeth Ann Fraser

1889

1962

73 years

C

128.

George Reid

Apr. 17, 1907

Nov. 24, 1973

66 years

C

129.

Ethyle Stewart

July 26, 1907

March 6, 1995

88 years

C

130.

Lillie Hiltz

July 9, 1882

July 1, 1950

68 years

C

131.

Harry Stewart

July 1, 1877

April 21, 1965

87 years

C

132.

Mildred Dilworth

May 31, 1890

May 30, 1955

65 years

C

133.

James Sloan

Nov. 19, 1886

June 14, 1974

87 years

C

134.

Audrey Sloane

June 10, 1915

Oct. 12, 1979

64 years

C

135.

Helen Haining

Feb. 27, 1832

April 23, 1867

35 years

C

136.

Samuel Staneley

1830

Jan. 9, 1890

60 years

C

137.

Mary Ann Carton

1839

Dec. 10, 1909

70 years

C

138.

Johannah Klahn

1822

May, 28, 1908

86 years

C

139.

Richard Cluff

1832

Dec. 7, 1903

71 years

C

140.

Sarah J. Cluff

Oct. 14, 1865

Oct. 21, 1897

32 years

C

141.

William J. Cluff

Dec. 2, 1862

April 15, 1904

42 years

C

142.

Archibald Goraham

1795

Oct. 10, 1870

75 years

C

143.

Annie Mason

1801

April 3, 1888

87 years

C

144.

Lillie Eva Shook

1875

1937

62 years

C

145.

James Miller

1873

1955

82 years

C

146.

John Herbert Brodie

1893

1974

81 years

C

147.

James B. Stewart

Sept. 8, 1856

June 10, 1933

76 years

B

148.

Barbara Bain

Aug. 14, 1859

Oct. 24, 1930

71 years

B

149.

Jessie M.

1893

1941

48 years

B

150.

Susan Anne Glass

June 8, 1855

Jan. 12, 1900

44 years

B

151.

Francis Dowey

July 30, 1855

Aug. 16, 1930

75 years

B

152.

Martha Davey

1879

1962

83 years

B

153.

Henry L. Henderson

1842

May 2, 1871

29 years

B

154.

Jaqueline Mary Otter

1846

Jan. 16, 1900

54 years

B

155.

Alfred W. Henderson

1870

March 31, 1875

5 years

B

156.

William Henderson

1817

Oct. 17, 1891

74 years

B

157.

Wilhemina M. Sindar

1817

Dec. 12, 1890

73 years

B

158.

Margaret Henderson

1852

Nov. 26, 1875

23 years

B

159.

Christian B. Sinclair

1818

Jan. 23, 1894

76 years

B

160.

John B. Henderson

Feb. 12, 1843

Jan. 27, 1916

72 years

B

161.

Benjamin Walker

1820

Jan. 3, 1885

65 years

B

162.

Eliza Colassco

1825

June 1, 1900

75 years

B

163.

Edwin B. Walton

1867

Feb. 15, 1889

22 years

B

164.

Louisa Walton

1858

Oct. 14, 1861

3 years

B

165.

Eliza Ann Walton

1855

Jan. 24, 1877

22 years

B

166.

Louie M. Walton

1864

Jan. 22, 1886

22 years

B

167.

John Mackenzie

1813

Feb. 13, 1875

62 years

B

168.

Mary Grairy

1821

Jan. 12, 1913

92 years

B

169.

John Jackson

1827

1855

28 years

B

170.

Ann Riley Jackson

1826

1884

58 years

B

171.

Charlotte Jackson

1855

1922

67 years

B

172.

William F.Jackson

1854

1927

73 years

B

173.

Mary Louise Jackson

1865

1942

77 years

B

174.

William Hutchinson

1836

1841

5 years

B

175.

George Hutchinson

1840

1841

1 year

B

176.

Mary Hutchinson

1841

1841

0 years

B

177.

Mary Hutchinson

1843

1843

0 years

B

178.

Fanny Hutchinson

1847

1850

3 years

B

179.

George Hutchinson

1849

1851

2 years

B

180.

Thos Hutchinson

1842

1887

45 years

B

 

            It should be interesting to note that most markers sampled included only death dates and the individual’s age at death, with no obvious emphasis of the date of birth.  The large majority of markers often belonged to a family in which members of the immediate as well as the extended family were included in the burial, and all the names where inscribed in the headstone.  Marker inscriptions that were illegible were overlooked and the only markers that were sampled in Section K were located along the periphery (note: names listed under section K in the chart above were actually sampled from Sections K, I, M & N; they were designated under Section K for simplicity).  The markers sampled in Sections B, C & D were random and were not restricted as was in Section K.  For Section K, 93 markers were sampled whereas in Sections B, C & D, 87 markers where sampled (34, 34, & 19 respectively).  Most of the sampled burials took place in the early to late nineteenth century, with a few exceptions whose deaths took place in the 1900’s.  These people were usually associated with a familial burial plot whose ancestral line dates back to the previous century.

            An emphasis was placed on stratification within the cemetery (between the two sections) based on architectural differences (i.e. marker height) and spatial organization.  Interpretation of these factors might provide insight into social themes that were dominant during that time.  Out of sheer interest, life span was calculated from the given information to check for any possible correlation with burial location.  The results go as follows:

 

*The mean life expectancy for Section K (n=93), was 50.81 years.    

*The mean life expectancy for Section B (n=34), was 44.85 years.

*The mean life expectancy for Section C (n=34), was 70.62 years.

*The mean life expectancy for Section D (n=19), was 59.66 years.

*The mean life expectancy for Sections B, C, & D (n=87), was 58.16 years.

 

            Obvious discrepancies were observed with respect to marker size as markers progressively increased in height towards the center of the cemetery.  Sections B, C, & D housed the smallest markers and marker size dramatically increased towards the center (Section K).  And as was stated before, Section K was very accessible as it was located in the heart of the cemetery, surrounded by the main road whereas Sections, B, C, & D could only be accessed by walking across the grass.  The height differential between the two sections goes as follows:

 

*The mean marker height in Section K (n=11), was ~6.17 ft.

*The mean marker height for Section B, C & D (n=12), was ~3.33 ft.

 

            Familial burials seemed to be the dominant arrangement in the cemetery as the large majority of burial plots were composed of three or more people.  The mean number of people per burial plot was calculated for each section: 

 

*The mean number of bodies per burial site for Section K (n=11), was 8.12 people per burial site.

*The mean number of bodies per burial site for Section B, C & D (n=12), was 3.08 people per burial site. 

 

            To help find possible relationships between gender, birth dates and longevity, two graphs were completed plotting:

 

i)                    Number of deceased individuals (Y) versus Year of birth (X).

ii)                   Number of deceased individuals (Y) versus Age at death (X).

 

Each graph was completed depicting differences between gender, citing possible differences in birth periods and life expectancy (see Appendices A-2 & A-3).

 

Discussion

 

            It was once thought that death was society’s great leveler.  No matter how rich or poor one was in life, it did not matter in death.  This naive perspective is now obsolete with the emergence of large and extravagant burial markers, unique ornamentation and ossification taken to the extreme.  It appears as though that modern culture believes that one’s status in life can persist in the afterlife with money being the prime determinant.  In other words, more money spent means more post-life prestige. 

             Due to the vast amounts of sampled interments and the tremendous lack of information gained from the burial markers, a proper analysis of the cemetery with respect to social stratification (between sections) might be impossible.  Working with the given information, logical inferences were made to denote possible differences between the two.   

            When accounting for possible differences between sections, it appeared as though people buried in Section K seemed to have shorter life spans overall.  However, when taking into consideration marker size, one would assume that people buried in Section K were either rich themselves, or were part of a family that was wealthy whose members took responsibility over their burial.  There is of course the possibility that these people were not rich in any sense, but possibly their loved ones might have scrounged up all possible funds to provide a large, elaborate (otherwise impossible) burial that might promote a chance of esteemed status in the afterlife.  But this would seem unlikely seeing how extreme mortuary ossification was exercised only by medieval royalty and the wealthy elitists, making this possibility highly improbable. 

            Section K did show a lower life expectancy than that of Sections B, C & D combined (approximately 7.5 years younger) but was not the lowest individual section.  Section B was the lowest with an average life expectancy of 44.85 years, approximately 6.0 years younger than that of Section K.  From the calculations, it would seem that the wealthy families that were buried in Section K lived a little less longer than those (less fortunate) buried in Sections B, C & D, who supposedly had less money in life.  There are several extraneous factors that might play a role in this occurrence however.  For one, the sample size of Section K (n=93) was considerably higher than each individual section, but was comparable when all three sections were combined (n=87), implying that a comparison between the two major sections would produce plausible conclusions (i.e. (rich) people buried in Section K lived shorter lives than (average or poor) people in Sections B, C & D).  If this is the case, then money can buy happiness, but not long life.  Another factor that must be taken into consideration is that Section K consisted of numerous infants, whose life expectancy (usually not exceeding more than 4 years) dramatically affected the overall mean decreasing it to a lower-than-actual value.  The infant outliers produced a bimodal distribution located close to zero and one closer to 75 years of age, compromising a possible correlation with social status and life expectancy.  The lack of infant burials in Sections B, C & D provide an accurate representation of life expectancies in lower class individuals.  With the exclusion of infant burials, comparison between the life expectancy mean of Sections B, C & D and a recalculated mean for Section K would likely produce similar results.             

            All of the arguments suggesting that people buried in Section K were “better off” versus those buried in Sections B, C & D, were based on the initial assumption that Section K residents were wealthier than their counterparts simply because they possessed larger burial markers.  While marker size might be a crude indicator of wealth and prosperity, it is the one of the few clues that provides possible insight into earlier times.  Like it was said earlier, marker size might not have anything to do wealth.  It has been known to happen that lower class individuals sometimes spend much more than they have (or wish to) to provide fallen loved ones with large, excessive markers.  At the same token, rich society types might find it distasteful to spend substantial amounts of money for a lofty marker and decide to go for a more modest and smaller marker.  Whatever the case may be, the assumption that marker size is proportional to wealth is simply that, an assumption.  The fact of the matter is, markers in Section K are much larger and more noticeable than those in Sections B, C & D.  But marker size was not the only argument used to formulate the assumption stated above.  When considering the location of the burial plots in the two designated sections, one notes a striking difference.  One is easily accessed, and one is not.

            As seen from the map, Section K is located in the center of the cemetery and is encircled by the cemetery’s main road.  Section K (along with Section I, M & N) houses the largest and possibly the oldest markers in Necropolis.  This area is one of the larger and more populated sections (with the exception of the Section VNG on the east side of the cemetery) and is visible upon entry into Necropolis.  Sections B, C & D on the other hand, are somewhat difficult to find, let alone get to.  People visiting the west side of the cemetery are forced to trudge through several other sections in order to get to Section B, C & D.  Even upon arrival in the section, the markers do not appear all that impressive, but rather unassuming in their small stature.  Careful observation of both sections reveals that Section K is much better kept than Sections B, C & D.  In addition to being accessible, the overall appearance of the immediate landscape suggests weekly (if not daily) housekeeping and gardening while the appearance of Sections B, C & D would make one wonder if anything is done there at all.  Dead shrubs and bushes are clearly evident in the western side of the cemetery to the point where some markers (whose inscriptions are barely legible as is) are virtually unreadable.  Cemetery employees appear to ignore these sections altogether and focus their attention on the newer sections in the center and eastern side of the cemetery.  So if marker size is not a truthful indicator of status, then burial location must be.  People who chose to bury their loved ones in Section K, were obviously more aware that it was prime territory compared to other parts of the cemetery.  They would expend more funds in order to make it known that their loved ones are buried in great locations with great headstones.  Markers in Section K were visually appealing and larger than traditional markers seen in other sections.  Taking into account these two aspects, it is conceivable to reason that those buried in Section K with the larger markers were wealthier than those individuals in Sections B, C & D.

            One thing that became evident during the sampling process was that residents of Section K were usually buried in bunches, that is they were family burials.  One family burial plot even included 13 bodies within a ~4.0 square meter area.  In contrast, burials in Sections B, C & D contained fewer bodies per plot.  Although still familial in nature, these burials just contained fewer individuals when compared to those in Section K (less than half).  The reasons for this may be vast in amount.  It may be suitable to assume that higher-class families exemplified their status by being buried together as some symbol of family unity or singularity.  There may be a sense of nobility associated with group burials and perhaps that is why perhaps Section K residents chose to be buried together in large groups rather than individually.  The Durand family vault of 1847 may be a testament to this supposition.  But from the logical point of view, one would expect familial burials to be more dominant in Sections B, C & D simply because their spatial distribution is much larger than that in Section K.  Equating several bodies buried together in very close proximity of a neighboring plot seemed a little odd and unfavorable at best, and appeared to be more ideal in Sections B, C & D where spacing between burial plots was much better. 

            Lastly, the random sampling of burial markers produced rather positive results.  Appendices A-2 & A-3 clearly indicate gender quantities within the sampling field (n=180; males=97 and females=83).  Appendix A-2 indicates that a large majority of the people sampled was born in the mid 1800s, with one person being born prior to the 19th century and a few being born in the 1900s.  Appendix A-3 illustrates the bimodal distribution with respect to age at death, with the highest quantities being children between the ages of 0-9 and adults between the ages of 70-79.  The mean life expectancy of the entire sample was 54.36 years of age.  When noticing the alarming number of infant deaths, several conclusions can be made.  The most obvious one being that monetary resources was not enough to promote the physiological survival of a child in the 1800s.  Infantile death was a harsh truth that even the wealthy had to live with during those times.  Overall, the two graphs show that most members of the sampled group were born in the mid 1800s and lived to their mid 50s, with the males slightly outnumbering the females in the complete sample.                             

            There were no statements made referring to cultural differences between the two groups because the sampled individuals from Sections K, B, C & D were primarily of Scottish and Irish descent.  Multiculturalism in Toronto came about in the latter half of the 20th century.  Prior to this influx of non-European immigrants, Toronto was predominantly Western European, with the Scots and Irish being the leading faction within the cemetery.  This being said, it would seem futile to try to provide conjecture for ethnic differences that may have had a role back then.  Interments of all races and backgrounds are now being seen in Necropolis but Western Europeans still contain the large majority of burial plots.  Cross-cultural correlations with respect to social identities and ideologies would be to difficult to create using the available information and would not give justice or the proper respect to the large diversity of cultures in Toronto Necropolis.   

 

Conclusion

 

            It has become clearly evident that social stratification exists in modern society and it coexists hand in hand with the multiculturalism that Toronto is known for.  But the deep-rooted belief that death balances all people, rich or poor, is now outdated.  It has become painfully clear that rich in life can mean rich in death and the same factors that create social segregation within a “united” society can also play the same role in death.  Rich and poor still does exist in cemeteries and the rich display this reality using larger-than-life markers and associated ornamentation.  Large, distinctive markers are just one of the signs that stratification within the city of the dead is present.  However, the inferences made in this piece were highly theoretical, given the limited information gained from the sample.  All the presuppositions presented were formulated using the available information, simple logic and an experienced understanding of the social inequalities that persist in modern societies.  It is understood that all the ideas presented could be completely inaccurate and pretentious, but at the same time they could be correct.  Without knowing the precise specifics underlying the social-cultural values and ideologies at that time, no one can ever be sure.  Nevertheless, social stratification does exist in life and in death, and will continue to do so till society in general chooses to adopt an analogous view of modern, traditional mortuary behavior.     

 

 

REFERENCES

 

  1. Auger, J.A., Social Perspectives on Death and Dying Fernwood Publishing 2000 (Halifax)

 

  1. Cannon, A., (1989) The historical dimension in mortuary expressions of status and sentiment.”  Current Anthropology 30(4):437-458.

 

  1. Cook, L., Seeing Through the Stones: Culture and Context in Mount Pleasant Cemetery; http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~lcook/index.htm

 

  1. Kastenbaum, R. & Kastenbaum, B.; The Encyclopedia of Death

The Oryx Press 1989 (Phoenix)

 

  1. Mount Pleasant Group of Cemeteries: Toronto Necropolis; http://www.mountpleasantgroupofcemeteries.ca/our_cemeteries/toronto_necropolis.asp

 

  1. Rhodes, C. & Vedder C.B., An Introduction To Thanatology: Death And Dying in American Society; Thomas Publisher 1983 (Springfield)

 

7.      Toronto Necropolis and Crematorium, Toronto Ontario; Published by The Ontario Genealogical Society (Toronto Branch) 2002, 2002 (Toronto)