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The City of the Dead

Information Concerning Maple Leaf Cemetery

Number of Interments Increasing -- Better Sanitary Conditions of the City Results in Fewer Deaths.

A quote from ? Source unknown at the moment.

Ever since the advisability of extending the limits of the Maple Leaf cemetery before it was everlastingly too late was discussed a couple of years ago, there has been in the minds of many citizens an idea that the city acted unwisely in allowing the matter to lapse. It would seem however that room for all of us and our children's children within the present bounds of Maple Leaf.

Nearly twenty-eight years ago - July 30, 1869 - a by-law was passed by the town council for the purchase of this thirty acres. On Jan 13 1871, a deed to the corporation was made by Patrick Tobin, the consideration being $3,430.

During the year of '71 the land was surveyed and laid out in lots, walks and driveways, this work being carried on under the supervision of Israel Evans, E W Scane, and the late Thomas Holmes who composed the cemetery committee of the then town council.

There are 22,505 lots divided off into wards as follows - Ward A 591 lots and gores: Ward B 268: Ward C 85: Ward D 163: Ward E 151: Ward F 599: Ward G 353: Ward H 395.

A by-law for the government was passed on the 7th July 1871 whereby the property was named "Maple Leaf Cemetery" and providing among other things that "From and after the passing of this by-law it shall not be lawful for any person or persons to bury or cause to be buried or interred or participate or assist in so doing in any place within the limits of this corporation."

This by-law was repassed in an amended form Dec 15 1894.

The first superintendent of Maple Leaf cemetery was Thomas Sainsbury, who was appointed at the opining of the cemetery in 1871 and held the position continuously until the spring of 1895 when he resigned and was succeeded by Homer B Turner on the 1st of March 1895.

Many Invested

When this plot so nicely located was opened for interments lots sold very rapidly, and soon many of what were then looked upon as the most desirable locations were snapped up. Most of those who had relatives buried in the burying grounds so commonly found under the shadow of the churches had the remains removed to the new cemetery as did many others resident near the city upon whose farms a white-wasahed fence marked the confines of the plot set apart years before for burial purposes. Only one church buring ground remains within the city limits - that at the easterly extremity of Stanley Avenue which despite the fact that many bodies still lie there has been left for years with broken down unsightly fences, and is and has been for years used as a cow pasture.

Naturally, the most desirable lots are sold off first, but under competent and painstaking superintendence past and present, the more unpromising portions have been improved and beautified until the rival if not indeed excel those which a few years ago were preferable in every respect.

The sale of lots is slow, only one and a quarter having been sold during these first two months of '97 and the unsold portion is looked upon as large enough to last for many years to come. The reason nof the slow sales is obvious. A great percentage of Chatham's citizens already own lots, many of which have nveer yet had the sod disturbed for the digging of a grave. The older part of Maple Leaf that lying west of the creek is pretty well sold out, few if any, desirable lots remaining. All recent sales of lots have been east of the creek.

Some Statistics

The present rate of burial can be closely estimated from the statement that since New Year's day, 1886, 2,000 burials in round numbers, have been made in Maple Leaf. This covers ten years and two months of 1897 during which twenty-eight interments have been made.

Although from year to year Maple Leaf Cemetery has grown in popularity and the range of territory it takes in has widened. January of this year shows fewer interments than for the more than ten years past. The figures are Jan 1887 11, 1888, 14, 1889 14, 1890 25, 1891 15, 1892 20, 1893 14, 1894 15, 1895 14, 1896 15, 1897 10.

The interments in the year 1896 were much fewer in number than the preceding four or five years. The cause ascribed to an improved sanitary condition of the city and the discontinuance of the use of well water by a majority of the citizens. It appears to those who are in the habit of drinking well water is much greater than among those who patronize the town pump. During 1896 there were only 160 persons buried in Maple Leaf cemetery while in 1895 there were 191. In 1894 218 and in 1893 190.

End of Quote.

(Note to clarify. Under the title above Some Statistics. The list of burials by year is, we believe, a list of burials for the month of January each year. So, in January of 1896 there were 15. As indicated below, over the whole year there were 160.
Also. Re the second sentence beginning "This covers ten years and two months ... " It probably means that between Jan 1 1886 and Dec 31 1896 [yes, that is actually 11 years and not 10!] plus the the first two months of 1897 there were about 2,000 burials in the cemetery.)