Happy Woodland

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Remember the Aurora Pet Cemetery that was expected to be open to the public by the end of 2014?

It appears that isn’t in the cards until at least 2018. Although the goalposts have been moved a giant step forward was made yesterday when a sizeable group descended upon the site to embark on a full-scale inventory. This effort and the ones that follow dispel the belief that the actual number of graves will never be known.

The poster on Ontario Abandoned Places advanced an estimate of 200 graves. The Town of Aurora’s Curator estimated around 275.

We marked 385.

Here are a few:

The site has visibly changed from my last visit back in 2013.  More stones have sunk into the soil, been overturned and slipped down the grade and/or suffered from further frost damage.

I’m extremely appreciative of local historian, and former Heritage Advisory Committee member, David Heard for having the foresight and energy to rally for preservation of this valuable heritage resource.  If 5 or so more years had passed there wouldn’t be much left to preserve.

Amongst the pets buried are reported to be a monkey and two horses. One of those horses belonged to the RCMP. The other, named Rose, belonged to a Toronto soldier who fought at Vimy Ridge in WW1 and a descendant of his was onsite to join in the search.

The group I was with cleared debris from 2 grids, flagged over 50 markers and recorded details of 20. No horses or monkeys among our finds. Overall it was a rewarding experience organised and executed with exceptional leadership both by the Town of Aurora’s curator and planner.

Having witnessed the scale and diversity of the markers it only bolsters the importance of pursuing designation as a National Heritage Site.  A site that provides a unique snapshot into the history of the entire town and its neighbours not just that of one stodgy family.

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