Estonian-Themed Jane’s Walk at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery

May 10, 2019

The first weekend in May celebrates Jane Jacobs with volunteer-guided walks around Toronto, where people can learn more about specific areas in the city. Estonians in Toronto have been introduced to various examples of architecture by Estonians over the last few years.

This year, about twenty people, primarily Estonians, gathered on May 4 at Mount Pleasant Cemetery for an Estonian-themed Jane’s Walk. This was led by Dean Mart Salumäe, the Pastor of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church St. Peter’s congregation in Toronto and was organized and coordinated by Piret Noorhani.

First, Dean Salumäe introduced one of Toronto’s largest cemeteries, which was designed by architect Henry Engelhardt using the Boston Mount Auburn Cemetery as an example. The area west of Mt. Pleasant Road was opened on November 4, 1876. A crematorium-mausoleum is also located in this area.

In the older part of Mt. Pleasant Cemetery there are a number of historical mausoleums, graves of war veterans, well-known politicians, educational and business figures, athletes, and musicians. Many Estonians have also chosen this large cemetery as their final resting place.

The first refugees who fled Estonia in 1944, arriving in Toronto and their descendants were buried at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in the mid-1950s. By the end of the next decade, a separate area had developed in the cemetery where many Estonian refugee families bought plots for themselves. Currently, this area is numbered section #46. In 1973, a monument was erected for compatriots who had passed. Every summer cemetery days (surnuaiapüha) are celebrated according to Estonian traditions.

Dean Salumäe introduced the cemetery’s history to the Jane’s Walkers, highlighting those more well-known individuals who found the cemetery to be their final resting place, and spoke in more detail about Estonian burial traditions, how they have changed over time, and compared them to Canadian traditions. Following the walk, participants were invited to St. Peter’s Church about 1.5 kilometres away, where there was a delicious coffee table set up by Leena Liivet. All the Jane’s Walkers could rest, warm up, and continue their discussions freely.

Eesti Elu /Estonian Life