Thursday, February 23, 2012

Octagonal deadhouses in King

Mid-to-late 19th-century octagonal deadhouses were unique to south-central Ontario and seemed to be built particularly in the area of Yonge Street.   King Township has two such deadhouses, one in King City Cemetery and one in Kettleby Cemetery.   Deadhouses were used in winter to store bodies in coffins that could not be buried because of frozen ground.

King City Cemetery Deadhouse

The King City Cemetery Deadhouse was part of a 2011 walking tour of King City.   Cemetery Manager, Jim Wymss, transformed the deadhouse into a mini-museum of cemetery equipment and artefacts for the occasion.

Kettleby Cemetery Deadhouse

The 1899 Kettleby Cemetery Deadhouse is also notable for its impressive cut-fieldstone walls.

The cemetery at Schomberg does not have a deadhouse but it does have an small, pretty burial chapel.   On the chapel's south side are double-doors (pictured below) that once facilitated the in-and-out-passage of pallbearers and coffins, during funeral services.

Other deadhouses in the King Township area are to be found at Bolton, Aurora and Richmond Hill.   They are pictured below.

Laurel Hill Cemetery Deadhouse, Bolton ~ built 1894

Aurora Cemetery Deadhouse ~ built 1868

Richmond Hill Presbyterian Church Cemetery Deadhouse ~ built 1863

Other octagonal deadhouses are reported to exist in Queensville and one in Toronto.   Two more apparently exist in western Canada.   Research has been done that purports all of these octogonal deadhouse houses were the work of Aurora builder, Henry Harris.

Please comment if you wish.
Barry Wallace

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