Photos by Barry Wallace
I discovered unexpectedly this week that Temperanceville United Church, at the north-east corner of King Road and Bathurst Street, in Richmond Hill, has a collection of ancient gravestones in a small plot on the east side of the church property. The portion of Temperanceville, east of Bathurst Street, has been part of Richmond Hill since the advent of the Regional Municipality of York, back in the early 1970s. But for those of us in King Township who have been around since before regional government, well, many of us still feel that Temperanceville, east and west of Bathurst Street, will always be part of King. It's hard for some of us to let go of 167 years of local history. But back to the gravestones. I was amazed to discover that of the 30 or more stones, almost all are connected to the original pioneers of Love's Corner, as Temperanceville was first known. And some of those pioneers' birthdates go back more than 260 years in Europe! Examples include James Love Sr., born in 1741 and his wife Mary, born in 1779 , or John Beynon born in 1773. Not all originals in the tiny community were from Britain either. Michael Saigeon was a native of the Province of Maine, France, just south of Brittany and Normandy. His stone is pictured immediately below.
Apart from the solemn testament of most gravestones, there is also a poignancy when it is children who are taken early in their lives. The two stones pictured above were for a brother and sister, 15 and 17 years of age, who died eight days apart in 1847. Many of the stones are so old it is difficult to read the engravings. I plan to contact the Ontario Genealogical Society's York Region Branch in Richmond Hill to purchase a transcript of these burials, to add to my collection of transcripts for all cemeteries in King Township...even if this small plot is officially in Richmond Hill.
Meanwhile, there appears to be a contemporary issue with the Temperanceville United Church gravestone site as seen in the pictures immediately above and below. There are approximately 15 massive maple trees along two sides of the church property. Some of the trees, adjacent to neighbouring residential development land on the east side, have orange tape around their trunks. Several signs regarding these trees have been posted beside the trees, stating: NO TRESPASSING...PROPERTY OF TEMPERANCEVILLE UNITED CHURCH...PLEASE DO NOT APPROACH THE TREES. The signs also reference the name and contact information of a law office.
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