Stairway to Heaven in a Cemetery? Our Haunted Heritage



In some cemeteries there are outside stairs with 13 steps. These were also traditional stairs that went to the underground catacomb burial sites of the wealthy. In some cases they were supposed to reference the 13 Steps to Hell. When some descended the stairs they reported they saw a vision at the bottom. A small chair was sometimes placed at the bottom of the stairs, and once you sat on that chair, it meant you had sold your soul to the Devil. Some graveyard stairs have only 12 steps and the 13th one is said to appear at night. Personally, I would rather see Heaven than Hell– but how many steps are there leading into St. James Cemetery in Carleton Place? Thankfully, only 11. I made sure today– darn sure!

The St. James Cemetery can be entered on Industrial Road or on the Townline side by a gate, or a short flight of elevated concrete steps leading in when locked.  The cemetery dates back to circa 1834, the date of the founding of the Parish. Sometime between 1871 and 1890, George Dummert (more about him later), who had emigrated from England in 1871, was asked to draw up a plan of plots for the cemetery. Prior to then there wasn’t an official plan.


Grave robbery by the “Resurrectionist Men”, often doctors themselves, was a problem in the 19th century as medical schools (in Brockville and Kingston) needed fresh cadavers for dissection classes.  “Bricking-over” a grave was a way of guaranteeing some security after death. Having the elevated stairs like St. James might also be a deterrent for the grave robbers. I cannot imagine going up and down those stairs with a hoop skirt. No siree Bob!

There were so many superstitions about death, and burial you don’t know what to believe. Just remember one thing. The Irish settlers always prayed for rain when the burial funeral procession entered the cemetery. Rain was a good omen, as surely the departed would go to heaven-and the rain might slow down the body-snatchers.



Old Wives Tales of Death — Our Haunted Heritage

Funerals With Dignity in Carleton Place – Just a Surrey with a Fringe on Top —- Our Haunted Heritage

Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

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It’s Photo Friday! If you’ve been to St. James Anglican Cemetery you may recognize these steps!
St. James Cemetery can be entered off of Industrial Road or from the 8th Concession of Ramsay through the gate, or by climbing these elevated concrete steps.

The cemetery dates back to circa 1834, the date of the founding of the Parish. Learn more on our guided cemetery walks at St. James Cemetery on October 24th!

About lindaseccaspina

Linda Knight Seccaspina was born in Cowansville, Quebec about the same time as the wheel was invented and the first time she realized she could tell a tale was when she got caught passing her smutty stories around in Grade 7 at CHS by Mrs. Blinn. When Derek "Wheels" Wheeler from Degrassi Jr. High died in 2010, Linda wrote her own obituary. Some people said she should think about a career in writing obituaries. Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa from 1976-1996. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off she finally found her calling. Is it sex drugs and rock n' roll you might ask? No, it is history. Seeing that her very first boyfriend in Grade 5 (who she won a Twist contest with in the 60s) is the head of the Brome Misissiquoi Historical Society and also specializes in local history back in Quebec, she finds that quite funny. She writes every single day and is also a columnist for Hometown News and Screamin's Mamas. She is a volunteer for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, an admin for the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page, and a local guest speaker. She has been now labelled an historian by the locals which in her mind is wrong. You see she will never be like the iconic local Lanark County historian Howard Morton Brown, nor like famed local writer Mary Cook. She proudly calls herself The National Enquirer Historical writer of Lanark County, and that she can live with. Linda has been called the most stubborn woman in Lanark County, and has requested her ashes to be distributed in any Casino parking lot as close to any Wheel of Fortune machine as you can get. But since she wrote her obituary, most people assume she's already dead. Linda has published six books, "Menopausal Woman From the Corn," "Cowansville High Misremembered," "Naked Yoga, Twinkies and Celebrities," "Cancer Calls Collect," "The Tilted Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place," and "Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac." All are available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Linda's books are for sale on Amazon or at Wisteria · 62 Bridge Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada, and at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum · 267 Edmund Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada--Appleton Museum-Mississippi Textile Mill and Mill Street Books and Heritage House Museum and The Artists Loft in Smith Falls.

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