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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Ross Bay Cemetery - Mary Laetitia Pearse (1840-1872)

Friday's balmy weather stretched right through the long weekend and I took advantage of it to begin a project - getting to know the Ross Bay Cemetery. It's the oldest cemetery in Victoria and walking around in it is like taking a stroll through Victoria's history. I have a copy of the "Historic Guide to Ross Bay Cemetery" by John Adams that contains 13 tours of sections of the cemetery. I started with tour number one which, appropriately, begins with the oldest grave, a burial that took place in 1872, several months before the cemetery was officially opened in 1873. In the above photo it is the grave on the right. This is the same grave that was photographed in 1874 in the photo to the left. It is the grave of Mary Laetitia Pearse (1840-1872), the first wife of Benjamin William Pearse (1832-1902), who is also buried in this plot. His grave is marked by a simple stone between his first and second wives' gravestones. The inscription reads "Benjamin William Pearse of Fernwood". Fernwood at that time was not a neighbourhood; it was the name of Pearse's home, Fernwood Manor, from which the neighbourhood got its name. Pearse came to Victoria in 1851 and in 1864 became Surveyor-General of Vancouver Island. His second wife, Sarah Jane Pearse continued to live in Fernwood Manor after her husband's death in 1902. She died, aged 100, in 1954 and the house was demolished in 1969. Some of the foregoing information and the photo at the left were taken from John Adams' "Historic Guide to Ross Bay Cemetery" and some was derived from the Wikipedia entry on the Fernwood Neighbourhood. The photo on the left is originally from the Provincial Archives of BC - PABC 6808.
Sarah Jane Pearse, whose gravestone is on the left in the top photo, is pictured below left. Fernwood Manor is pictured below right. Both photos are taken from Terry Reksten's fascinating Social History of Victoria, "More English than the English", published by Orca Books.

5 comments:

JoJo said...

Is gravestone rubbing allowed there? I hear it's illegal in New England but I've done it at the old cemetery in my hometown. The oldest graves date to the late 1600s and early 1700s.

Fern Long said...

This is a lovely idea, I can't wait to see what else you find. I think it's great to pair the older photos with current ones; gives you a greater sense of the history. Bravo!

Matthew Feehan said...

Sounds weird, but one of my favourite places to visit in all of Victoria is the Ross Bay Cemetery. I think it's good to go there because it keeps one's life in perspective. Hey, we are not on this planet is for a long period of time, so if you are an artist, or a song-writer or some other person who's got something to say, or something to share, best to work on it today, because tomorrow might be too late...

Matthew Feehan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
William Kendall said...

Strangely, I've always found a cemetery to be a peaceful place. Lovely shot, and thanks for the history!