Story of a Toronto graveyard
ST. JAMES CEMETERY
By Toronto Editorial Photographer John Hryniuk
St. Jamestown Cemetery is one of the city of Toronto's oldest graveyards.
The cemetery opened in July 1844 for the burial of people professing the Anglican faith. At that time most of the city’s population of 18,000 lived south of Queen Street West and the cemetery's present location during that era must have been regarded as being outside city limits. The cemetery was necessary as the burial ground around the cathedral itself, in use since 1797, was out of room.
Recognizing the growing trend towards cremation throughout the world, a crematorium was added in 1948. To date over 89,000 interments and 75,000 cremations have taken place at the cemetery.
The cemetery itself is home to the Chapel of St. James-the-Less which sites atop a knoll at the highest point in the cemetery. In its vigorous, harmonious composition, this small funeral chapel is a splendid example of Victorian Gothic design. Its sense of strength and spirituality is derived from the subtle contrast of its stone walls, enveloping roofs, and soaring spire.> Erected in 1860 and opened in 1861, the chapel was designed by Frederick William Cumberland and Storm, one of Toronto's leading 19th-century architectural firms. The cemetery's chapel, the Chapel of St. James-the-Less, was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1990.