Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto

Coordinates: 43°41′47″N 79°23′06″W / 43.696351°N 79.384882°W / 43.696351; -79.384882
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mount Pleasant Cemetery
The cemetery's mausoleum and crematorium
EstablishedNovember 4, 1876
Coordinates43°41′47″N 79°23′06″W / 43.696351°N 79.384882°W / 43.696351; -79.384882
TypeNon-profit, non-denominational
Owned byMount Pleasant Group
Find a GraveMount Pleasant Cemetery
Official nameMount Pleasant Cemetery National Historic Site of Canada

Mount Pleasant Cemetery is a cemetery located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and is part of the Mount Pleasant Group of Cemeteries. It was opened in November 1876 and is located north of Moore Park, a neighbourhood of Toronto. The cemetery has kilometres of drives and walking paths interspersed with fountains, statues and botanical gardens, as well as rare and distinct trees. It was originally laid out by German-born landscape architect Henry Adolph Engelhardt, inspired by the European and American garden cemeteries of the 19th century, and with influences from Mount Auburn Cemetery in Boston.[1]

As the final resting place of more than 168,000 persons, Mount Pleasant Cemetery contains remarkable architecture amongst its many monuments. The cemetery was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 2000.[2][3]


In the early 19th century, the only authorized cemeteries within the town of York (predecessor to present-day Toronto) were limited to members of either the Church of England or the Roman Catholic Church. Deceased citizens who did not belong to either of these Christian denominations had no choice but to find burial arrangements outside of the city. Notably, those of Jewish faith who wanted a Jewish burial had to resort to cemeteries beyond Ontario (Montreal and Buffalo) until Pape Avenue Cemetery was opened outside of Toronto in 1849.

A photograph of the cemetery's public vault, 1891.

In response to a petition to the Legislative Council of Upper Canada, which included "it has become desirable that a Plot be obtained for the purpose of a General Burying Ground, as well for Strangers as for the Inhabitants of the Town, of whatever sect or denomination they may be", a statute named An act to authorize certain persons therein named, and their successors, to hold certain lands for the purpose therein mentioned was passed and received Royal Assent in 1826: Acts of U.C. 7 Geo. IV, c. 21.[4] The land that came to be known as the "Potters Field" was acquired and started operation as a cemetery soon afterwards. Over time, additional cemetery lands were added to what became the Toronto General Burying Ground.

In 1873, a new cemetery available to all citizens was established. The new cemetery was situated on an 81-hectare (200-acre) farm on Lot 19 Concession 3 (also referred to as Yonge Street Farm) that was once owned by the Cawthra family (and likely by William Cawthra) at the far outskirts of the city. Mount Pleasant Cemetery formally opened on 4 November 1876, with more than 19 kilometres (12 mi) of carriage drives along rolling hills and ponds. Mount Pleasant Road was later constructed to pass through the centre of the cemetery and is named after it. The cemetery also has remains and a number of stone markers that were moved from the Potter's Field. The urban expansion of Toronto eventually led to Mount Pleasant Cemetery being situated in the centre of the city.

A number of Canadian servicemen who died during the World Wars were interred at the cemetery. It contains 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.[5]

The Visitation Centre was completed in 2009.

In the autumn of 2009, the cemetery opened Mount Pleasant Visitation Centre. The new building is approximately 2,200 square metres (24,000 sq ft) and is built on the property grounds. It was built with the intention to provide visitation space and chapel services.[6]

The cemetery began planning the building as early as 2004, but disputes[7] with the City of Toronto government, local funeral homes, and the Ontario Municipal Board all delayed the project. Changes were made as a result of this process, most notably vehicle access is now through the cemetery grounds only (near the cemetery offices), not directly from Moore Avenue. [6] [8]


Despite the cemetery having been created as a public trust by Special Act of the Ontario legislature in 1826 (Toronto General Burying Grounds Act), Mount Pleasant Group began to assert publicly that it had been converted in 1871 into a corporation subject to the Corporations Act of Ontario and that it was no longer a trust. Community activist Margot Boyd and others argued that its status as a public trust remained unchanged.

With donations from the community, Boyd engaged the McCarthy Tetrault law firm in 2009 to review the statutes pertaining to Mount Pleasant Group. An 18-page letter sent to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty stated: “Legally, this trust might be characterized in several ways, but an accurate description of the trust in question is a ‘public trust.’ ” Local politicians Toronto Centre MPP Glen Murray and Ward 12 Toronto City Councillor Josh Matlow both agreed at the time.[9]

As early as 2006, Mount Pleasant Group began describing itself as a commercial privately owned entity, and refused to disclose its financial records, giving rise to allegations that it was engaged in the stealth privatization of a public asset. In 2012, Mount Pleasant Group commenced a public relations campaign against Boyd and others in an attempt to deflect criticism, and to discredit its detractors by labelling them NIMBYs.[10] [11]

In December 2012, Boyd and lawyer and community activist Pamela Taylor organized a public trustee election in accordance with the requirements of the 1849 Special Act.[12]

In 2013, over the objections of local residents, Mount Pleasant Group installed a new crematorium. The siting of the facility was a mere 16.5 metres from neighbouring houses, and contrary to Toronto City By-laws.[13] Ward 13 City Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam sought leave to appeal against the Ontario Ministry of the Environment decision to allow the crematorium.[14]

Also in 2013, Boyd and Taylor, together with historian and environmental consultant Lorraine Tinsley, founded the not-for-profit association Friends of Toronto Public Cemeteries and brought an Application to the Superior Court of Ontario to interpret the cemetery statutes.[15]


  • To commemorate the 118 lives lost in the fire that destroyed the Great Lakes luxury cruise liner SS Noronic on September 17, 1949, a memorial was erected by the Government of Ontario.
  • To commemorate the 167 lives of members of the Salvation Army (1012 people in total died) lost in the sinking of the Empress of Ireland on May 29, 1914, a memorial surrounded by the graves of the deceased was erected by the Toronto unit of the Salvation Army.
  • To commemorate the 109 lives lost in the crash of Air Canada Flight 621 on July 5, 1970, a memorial surrounded by graves of many of the dead was erected in May 1971.
  • Children's Garden Memorial was created to remember all the stillborn and children without known parents the province buried in one area with no stones or markers.
  • A memorial was erected sometime after 1912 in honour of two soldiers killed returning from a training exercise in 1912 and as a monument to the 48th Highlanders of Canada's veterans and war dead of the South African War.[16]

Notable interments[edit]

Business people[edit]

Mausoleum for Timothy Eaton, founder of Eaton's department stores.
The mausoleum of Hart Massey.
Memorial for Steve Stavro, owner of Knob Hill Stable and shareholder in Maple Leaf Gardens Ltd.


Medical personalities[edit]

Music personalities[edit]

Grave marker for Glenn Gould, a classical pianist.


Grave of William Lyon Mackenzie King, 10th Prime Minister of Canada.
Monument of John Keiller MacKay, 19th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.
The headstone for John Turner,
17th Prime Minister of Canada.

Sports personalities[edit]

Survivors of the Titanic[edit]

  • Lieutenant-Colonel Arthur Godfrey Peuchen (1859–1929) was a Canadian businessman and RMS Titanic survivor. He was also a World War I veteran.
  • Ethel Flora Fortune (1883–1961) was a first-class passenger and survivor of RMS Titanic.


The tomb of World War I flying ace William George Barker is in the cemetery's main mausoleum.


Grave stone for the Hewitt family, which features W. A. Hewitt and his son, Foster Hewitt.


  • Official web site
  • Filey, Mike Mount Pleasant Cemetery (1990) Firefly Books ISBN 0920668690
  1. ^ "Mount Pleasant Group".
  2. ^ Mount Pleasant Cemetery. Directory of Federal Heritage Designations. Parks Canada. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  3. ^ Mount Pleasant Cemetery. Canadian Register of Historic Places. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  4. ^ "Statutes of Her Majesty's province of Upper Canadiana".
  5. ^ a b CWGC. "Toronto (Mount Pleasant) Cemetery | Cemetery Details". CWGC. Retrieved 2023-03-25.
  6. ^ a b "Mt. Pleasant Home". Archived from the original on 31 December 2007.
  7. ^ Humphrey Funeral Home v. Toronto (City), 2007
  8. ^ "Moore Park Residents Association – tagline". Retrieved 2023-03-25.
  9. ^ "Some fights never die". 24 February 2011.
  10. ^ Blackwell, Tom (5 May 2012). "Grave concerns: Is Mount Pleasant cemetery group Ontario's 'lost' crown corporation?". National Post.
  11. ^ Hopper, Tristin (8 May 2012). "Books staying closed on Mount Pleasant cemeteries". National Post.
  12. ^ "Neighbours fuel controversy at Mount Pleasant Cemetery by electing their own trustee". 13 December 2012.
  13. ^ "Mount Pleasant neighbours fume over crematorium's plan".
  14. ^ "Concern grows over crematorium fumes". 22 July 2013.
  15. ^ "Cemetery case in court December 16 to set a date". 21 November 2013.
  16. ^ "48th Highlanders of Canada memorial". National Defence Canada. 2008-04-16. Archived from the original on 2014-05-23. Retrieved 22 May 2014.
  17. ^ "A historical stroll through Canada's prime ministerial grave sites". Retrieved 27 July 2020.
  18. ^ "National Program for the Grave Sites of Canadian Prime Ministers". Parks Canada. Government of Canada. July 21, 2023. Retrieved August 28, 2023.
  19. ^ "Curley Christian | The Canadian Encyclopedia".
  20. ^ a b "Search Results". Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto. 2022. Retrieved January 17, 2022.
  21. ^ a b "The Hewitt Family Tombstone – Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto". Hockey Gods. March 21, 2012. Retrieved January 17, 2022.

External links[edit]