The ghosts at the end of the road

About a 20-minute walk from my place there’s a little square graveyard, fenced with skinny trees, carpeted in golden leaves. There are about a dozen grave markers there, lichen-covered and worn. They are all from the 1870s, 1880s and 1890s.

The novel I’ve been working on for the past few years, Hold My Body Down, is set in 1871 and centres on a cemetery in downtown Ottawa that’s no longer there. When I picture the graves in that cemetery, and the people who once were buried there, I think of the little cemetery near my place.

This is the North Rideau Methodist Cemetery, according to Who’s Where, A Guide to the Cemeteries of Rideau Township, by Jim Kennedy. Kennedy writes that there was a church to go with the cemetery, built in 1876 and destroyed in the 1930s.

As you might expect in a 19th-century graveyard, several of the graves belong to children. One family lost a two-year-old and a six-year-old, within four days in September 1883.

Mind you, there are also several octogenarians too. There’s a 96-year-old and his 88-year-old wife; they were born in the 18th century.