Thursday, June 14, 2018

MacLaren Cemetery

A short drive up the road from the Wakefield Mill is MacLaren Cemetery, a quiet cemetery nestled in the Gatineau Hills and overlooked by a Canadian flag. Named for one of the early settlers here, David MacLaren, it is a final resting place for locals, many of whom are descended from those first settlers from the early 19th century, and who have stayed on in the Gatineau River Valley. There are some graves of note here as well. Knowing that Tom has a photographer's interest in cemeteries, I knew they had to come up this way, and so brought them to Wakefield. Those of you who follow Tom's blog have seen his take on this place.

The reason a Canadian flag flies above this cemetery is out of respect for one of those at rest here. Lester B. Pearson was one of our best Prime Ministers, and as foreign minister during the Suez Crisis in 1957, he was critical in resolving the crisis. Pearson and the UN Secretary General of the time, Dag Hammarskjold, are considered the fathers of the idea of military peacekeepers, and Pearson was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work. His domestic and foreign accomplishments as prime minister include universal health care, the Canadian pension plan, the Canadian flag, keeping us out of Vietnam, and many other progressive policies, all while operating a minority government over two terms. His wife Maryon is buried here as well, as is his son Geoffrey, also a career Canadian diplomat. This quiet cemetery is a wonderful resting place for a great man, and once you know it's here, you come back. Perhaps you leave a stone behind.

Nearby is another grave of note. The great Canadian landscape photographer Malak Karsh, who brought about the Tulip Festival and crossed the country time and time again to photograph its beauty, is buried here, as is his wife Barbara. The inscription at its base fits him: "Every time I leave my studio in search of new pictures I ask God to open my eyes so that I can see. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't discover some surprise that makes me wonder how I missed it before. That is part of the pleasure in life, to keep searching. ~ Malak Karsh, beauty seeker, photographer."

This gravestone caught my eye- perhaps it was the shape, perhaps it was the little rabbit beneath.

The cemetery grounds are bordered by nearby woodland. That large glacial erratic seems to have always caught my eye whenever I've been here.

This is not a grave, but a plaque erected in 1997 by the community paying homage to those who have come before them, who settled the area and built their lives here. 

One grave caught my eye, a relatively recent one for a young woman of First Nations descent. Her tombstone featured carved feathers, an inlaid dream catcher, and candles. A pole alongside it includes tobacco pouches, a common sight in First Nations culture. 

Here we have two final views of the cemetery and the grounds. It is a lovely graveyard in a beautiful setting... and very peaceful. The sort of place one might like to be buried in.


  1. As one who has visited cemeteries in his time I can appreciate this tour. Some greats rest here.

  2. This would be an especially interesting place if you knew Canadian history and Canadian personalities. Or, as my dad used to say, cemeteries must be wonderful as there are so many people dying to get into them. :)

  3. Yes I did see the cemetery on Toms blog thought it a nice one then but seeing the photos you took shows it is a in a beautiful spot

  4. I attended a private school downtown when I was in first and second grades. We lived with my grandparents, and my grandfather would drive me there to kill time if we were early. We'd read the stones, and there was one engraved with the name, "Hurting". He used to joke and say he probably wasn't hurting anymore.

  5. Gosto destes cemitérios e algumas das lápides são bastante originais.
    Um abraço e tenha um bom dia.

    Dedais de Francisco e Idalisa
    O prazer dos livros

  6. ...Magnus Gunther - Activist, Passionate, Intellectual, Peerless Friend. Good things to be!

  7. Love the bench with the little rabbit underneath.
    So much history among those graves.


  8. Love that Pearson is in the grave of a common man. Says a lot about him and his family. He deserved a more prominent resting place I think.

  9. Hello, I love the stone with the rabbit. The young woman's grave is interesting. Have a happy day!

  10. @Catalyst: this is a fine spot for a final rest.

    @Lowell: that's one way to put it.

    @Bill: I knew Tom would appreciate this spot.

    @Pat: cemeteries are wonderful spots for the photographer.

    @Francisco: thank you.

    @Tom: it was a grave that stood out.

    @Janis: there is a lot.

    @Marie: I chatted with a lady in the cemetery who was likely part of the group responsible for it. She thought that Pearson, having had spent time in the Gatineau Hills, as there is a government retreat nearby, would have been quite familiar with that area to begin with, and would have chosen it for the peace and quiet. It is a marvelous spot for a prime minister to rest. Laurier's grave over in Ottawa tends to be more grand, while Borden's grave in another Ottawa cemetery is more like this.

    @Eileen: thank you.

  11. Thank you for showing me Pearson's resting spot. He is someone I wish we could find in America today. His legacy continues on, and I appreciate you bringing his good deeds to my attention. :-)

  12. Very interesting information and wonderful pics you have shared. Have a nice day.

  13. My favourite is the one with the rabbit!

  14. Cemeteries contain our history or at least our historical characters. I agree , Lester B. (Mike) was our best prime Minister. I read his biography.

  15. I see that Mr. Pearson gets lots of visitors to his grave. The First Nations grave was very interesting. I've never seen anything like that pole before.

  16. @DJan: he was an exceptional leader, the one that stands the test of time.

    @Mildred: thank you!

    @Nancy: it's poignant.

    @Red: He and Mackenzie King, those are the best we've had.

    @Sharon: I've seen tobacco pouches like that left at the Aboriginal Veterans Monument on Remembrance Day. This is the first time I've seen it on a grave.

  17. Thank you William for sharing this most interesting post

  18. The gravestone with rabbit sitting underneath is very eye catching for sure!

  19. what a view. i enjoy the creative as to what folks bring to their loved ones who have past away. i often tell my hubby he needs to get into this family history ... u can learn so much. ( ;

  20. It was interesting to see Pearson's grave. We could use him today!

  21. Magnus Gunther - Activist, passionate & intellectual ... what a beautiful stone.
    Must have been a wonderful and special person with the appreciation "uitstekend".

  22. @Marleen: it is!

    @Cloudia: you're welcome.

    @Tamago: it is indeed.

    @Beth: you can!

    @RedPat: especially today.

    @Jan: I imagine so!

  23. I find cemeteries fascinating, looking at the stones. And the Suez PM -- I've been watching The Crown and they just got to that. I was just a kid when it happened so I wasn't aware of it all. I'm glad he gets a flag!

  24. I enjoy cemeteries very much. You have some great photos here. I really like seeing the First Nations Grave marker.

  25. The First Nations grave is fascinating! Wonderful that so many descendants of the original settlers are still in the area.

  26. Ilove old cemeteries! We used to walk up from the one room country school to the old cemetery on the other side and eat our lunch there. It was always quiet and cool on a warm fall or spring day.

  27. Lovely photos of a special cemetery
    The glacial erratic is captivating. It looks as if somebody carved a headstone out of it. Cemeteries surrounded by woods, I feel have an atmosphere that's pleasant.

  28. What a wonderful cemetery!
    Oh, if we only had more Lester Pearsons today. (Or, maybe just a few less idiots playing reality T.V. in the U.S.)

  29. I do enjoy traipsing through older cemeteries and I do like the Karsh inscription. Tomorrows blog will explain how Concrete got its name

  30. It is indeed a peaceful resting place William.. the quote from Mr Karsh is very true, I'm sure we are all guilty of missing things everyday ☺

  31. It looks a wonderful, peaceful place.

    All the best Jan

  32. What an interesting raised gravestone with the rabbit underneath. I've never seen one like that before.

    What is your header photo of? Looks like a topiary woman climbing out of the Earth.

  33. Cemeteries are great places to photograph.

  34. @Jeanie: this one is fascinating.

    @Michelle: it did fit her culture.

    @Spare Parts: Wakefield has quite a history.

    @Mari: there was a cemetery down the road from where I lived growing up.

    @Maywyn: it's a hell of a big rock!

    @Kay: the world needs people like him.

    @MB: thank you!

    @Karl: cemeteries do differ through the world.

    @Grace: it's quite a final resting place.

    @Jan: I certainly think so.

    @Sandi: I think the rabbit's a nice touch. Yes, it's a topiary from last year's MosaiCanada event, over in Gatineau. I'm hoping to get over to this year's event.

    @Klara: they are!