Tag Archives: cemetery walk

Personal Confessions—- I am a Taphophile



A few weeks ago Janice Tennant Campbell  put a photo on my page saying I was a taphophile.  A taphophile is someone who loves cemeteries and funerals. Canadian Headstones.com is where gravers spend time when they’re not in cemeteries. It’s a sprawling database of thousands of burial records. Each record consists of a page where the living can enter a deceased’s name, and find the burial location These hard-core gravers, like genealogists, have built a culture around documenting the dead. Some ask me about my search for history and say,

Really? You don’t have anything better to do than this?”

I can assure you I don’t spend all my free time with dead people.

Taphophilia has always seemed a strange term to me. Perhaps it’s too scientific, or maybe it smacks just a bit too much of hipsterism.  Akin to the idea of cemetery collector, I’ve always fashioned myself as a memory collector, pocketing the histories of men and women long gone and yet still oddly alive when I stroll past their stones. It’s always about memories, even on a mission at the Oakland California cemetery last year looking for the Black Dahlia’s grave.


I don’t feel I am morbid and like to talk about death all the time, in fact I think I have a pretty laid-back attitude toward graving. But I do take time to note strange names—or the forgotten. A cemetery is a powerful place. With all its lifelessness, it is mighty and compels me to think about my choices: Do I make a contribution? Do I live my passions?  Do I make a difference?

A cemetery is authoritative in its unassuming way of humbling us, and yet empowering in its wake-up call for us to appreciate what we have here. Do we really fear death—or do we fear not truly living? I always feel inspired by the lives that lived before me and the legacy they have left for me.
 Buy Linda Secaspina’s Books— Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac– Tilting the Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place and 4 others on Amazon or Amazon Canada or Wisteria at 62 Bridge Street in Carleton Place

Things You Just Don’t say at a Funeral— Even if you Are a Professional Mourner



Professional mourners have played a part in funeral ceremonies for thousands of years. In many countries, tradition dictates that the family of the dead, especially children and grandchildren, must express their grief in a very outward manner. Not crying enough or at sufficient decibel levels would be seen as a lack of filial piety so people started hiring professional mourners to ensure a noisy and very passionate farewell.

Victorian times, professional mourners called mutes were hired and walked behind the hearse. They wore black and deployed a suitably miserable expression despite the fact that they had never even met the deceased or the family. In those days funerals were very elaborate affairs and there was a very strict etiquette in place that gave rules for everything from the colors of mourning dress to mourning timelines that had to be observed. Victorian mourning practices spread throughout Europe and professional mourners began to band together, even going on strike for higher wages. As motorized hearses were introduced into the funeral procession, professional mourners began to be phased out of the ceremony.


While professional mourners have gone out of style in western countries, professional rejoicers might be a suitable replacement to think about for the future. Paying someone to initiate a hearty chuckle at a viewing would be well worth the money because laughter is much more encouraging than tears and helps just as much in the grieving process.


Sometimes you just have to laugh to help get you through it ..

1-An elderly friend was cremated and I went to the services to pay my respects. As I inched my way up to the wooden box that held the departed ashes I heard an elderly man say as he glanced at the wooden box.
“You know looking at her now she was a lot smaller than I remembered”.

2-I don’t want anyone asking at my funeral where the fire extinguisher is. I’ve often asked to be buried with one to fight off the hell fires.

3-“He died doing what he loved to do” said one minster of the the deceased who died of a drug overdose. My jaw dropped to the floor.

4-“Why is Grampy in a box?” I once asked. Someone said,“We are packing him up and mailing him to heaven. This is his good bye party”.

5-I went to a funeral for a coworker a couple of years back. As the service progressed the minister said we would hear a song, I swear “I found my Thrill on Blueberry Hill” began to play. I had to bend over to get myself under control. The final hymn was Elvis singing: “I’ll have a Blue Christmas Without You.” On that note I had to get up and leave I was giggling so hard.

Our Haunted Heritage Event Page- but tickets soon! October 15th

St James Cemtery Ghost Walk Event Page- October 28th


Outside Looking in at The Eccentric Family of Henry Stafford — Our Haunted Heritage

The Funeral Train That Went Through Carleton Place — Our Haunted Heritage

Stairway to Heaven in a Cemetery? Our Haunted Heritage

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

Death by Corset? Bring Out Your Dead and Other Notions! Our Haunted Heritage

Tales of the Tombstones — The Crozier Children


The story below is from the Fairview Cemetery on Davidson Street, Listowel, Ontario


Jessie Keith died on October 19, 1894, 13 years old “while defending her honour” – She was born December 20, 1880, and was the daughter of William and Jane (McGeorge) Keith of Elma Twp. Jessie was brutally murdered at the edge of a woodlot near the railway tracks in Elma Twp., just east of Listowel on the way home from running an errand. Almede Chattel, a tramp from Ste. Hyacinthe Quebec was arrested a few days after the murder, convicted of the crime
and hanged in Stratford jail on May 31, 1895.

The monument to Jessie was unveiled in May 1896. The Goddess Flora (goddess of flowers) dropping a rose on the grave was sculpted out of Cerara marble in Italy and waserected on a Peterhead granite pedestal from Aberdeen Scotland on an Ohio free stone base, by R. T. Kemp of Listowel. The monument was restored in June 2006 by Stratford Memorials in Listowel.  Survived by parents; sister, Ida and brother, Alexander.  Her sister Ida died 2 years later February 26, 1898, 19 years old, “with a broken heart over the tragic loss of her sister”

A statue as beautiful as the crime was ugly

‘The story reflects so well on the townsfolk of the region, the way they kept their tempers and brought the killer to justice.’ CLICK

There is nothing more tragic than the death of a child. In researching St. James Cemetery in Carleton Place for our Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum Cemetery walk October 28th. I have come across a few names I need to pay homage to. Like Cecil Cummings and Margaret Violet King– they need to be remembered.

And so I begin research on the Crozier children who all died in the same time frame within a 4 year period.


I found it odd that a small ceramic dog bed was placed at each gravestone as they had died in the 1870s. Today I found out that a Jewish lady comes to visit their gravestones on a regular basis after finding them one day. Planting flowers or leaving anything but a stone is not a Jewish tradition. It is also tradition that visiting the graves of others who are buried there is not done. Not visiting other graves is out of respect to the person who is being buried, as well as to the person previously interred.

So why does she do it? She also scatters graham cracker crumbs around the grave and gets annoyed when birds begin to eat them.Today I found out why she does that. When the cemetery would close for the evening, some mourners would come and sprinkle crumbs on their loved ones plot as some sort of tradition so that animals would keep them company during the night.

Stay tuned for more. Remember our Haunted Heritage Event at the Museum is October 15th and the Cemetery Walk is Oct 28th





Ottawa Daily Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
25 Oct 1894, Thu  •  Page 1