Saturday, 12 January 2013

1883 - Cemetery Conditions

“Burlington cemetery is fast becoming not a cemetery but a chronic resort for loafers.”
Hamilton Spectator. May 28, 1883 5.5
With the warm spring weather, a problem relating to the cemetery on the Burlington Heights became very noticeable.
On Sunday, May 27, 1883 a Spectator reporter was sent out York street to investigate:
“Sunday afternoons, empty headed giggling girls wander around the walks, plucking flowers from the graves, laughing and behaving generally in a manner that on the streets would render them liable to arrest.” 5.5
The reporter stated emphatically that the problem was not only with the behavior of the young ladies:
“On the grass are stretched the forms of young men, chewing tobacco, smoking and sending the foul spit, reeking with the flavor of villainous oaths, over the hallowed resting places of our dead.” 5.5
The reporter spoke to some ladies who often went to the cemetery to visiting the graves of lost loved ones, but who had become victims of the degenerated conditions at the cemetery:
“The ladies are almost sure to be insulted. The young blackguards, who sprawl over the place, hurl indecent and insulting words to them as they pass. The living love to go to their dead to garnish their graves with flowers; to place loving remembrances on the mounds under which lie so much that was near and dear to them. But they cannot do it when, in doing so, they are laid open to insult and run the chance of having the blush of shame brought to their cheeks by the indecent words of some foul-mouthed loafer.” 5.5
The reporter emphasized that it was not all the young ladies and men who were conducting themselves so poorly, but that a great majority of the young people at the cemetery on Sundays did act “in a manner that makes one wonder if the rising generation has no respect for death or the remembrances of it that a graveyard is sure to bring.”
After rhetorically asking if there were no remedy for the situation, the reporter answered his own question as follows:
“Some time ago, the plan of issuing tickets to respectable parties and of only allowing the holders of these tickets in was suggested. Why should it not be not be introduced now? It may give the caretaker some extra trouble, it is true; but are the living to show no reverence to the dead?
“Can we stand by complacently and see this thing go on, week after week, without making some effort to stop it? No ! It is time for action. Something must be done. Some steps must be taken to render that place safe for our wives and daughters to visit. If they choose to go to the city of the dead, they must be protected from insult. It has gone far enough as it is; a change is need and at once!” 5.5

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