Are you out of ideas for ways to spend weekends these days, while the weather only continues to get nicer? Have you worn out your welcome at your favourite local cafe, and want to go somewhere that’s not really on most “Top Toronto Attractions” lists? Visit your local necropolis! It sounds like the name of a bad horror film (actually, it is the name of several bad horror films), but it’s really just an ultra-interesting way to say, “we’re going to walk around the local cemetery today”.
Toronto’s own Necropolis and Crematorium is located at 200 Winchester Street in Cabbagetown. “Necropolis” comes from the Greek words for “city of the dead” and typically refers to a very large, historic cemetery. Toronto’s Necropolis alone holds over 50,000 bodies, as life in early Muddy York was often unsanitary, dangerous, and many Muddy Yorkers were felled by the two cholera epidemics in the 1800s.
Necropoles (according to World of Warcrafters, this is indeed the correct plural form) are found across the globe, in countries like Lebanon, Italy, Cuba, Poland, Morrocco and Algeria. Canada only has the one, and it is one of the city’s oldest cemetaries. It officially opened in 1850, and quite a few graves from some of the smaller, earlier Toronto cemeteries have been moved to the Necropolis.
The buildings themselves include a chapel, office and monuments are shining examples of Victorian-era architecture. The cemetery is dotted with giant red oaks, along with a large flower bed and rose garden, making it perfect for photographs. But tread lightly, as there are also memorial cremation scattering areas nearby.
Many notable Torontonians and Canadians are buried here, including Joseph Bloor, William Lyon Mackenzie (the first mayor of Toronto), George Brown, Senator John Macdonald and Thorton Blackburn, a slave who fled to safety using the Underground Railroad.