My friends and I regularly run through Mt. Pleasant Cemetery. Why, you may ask? Well, traffic is light, the roads are paved and in good repair. The hundreds of species of trees provide shade in summer and in winter, its hardworking staff plow and sand the roads way before Toronto’s regular streets.
I first saw Mt. Pleasant Cemetery walking across the ravine bridge on St. Clair Avenue West. New to Toronto, my curiosity was piqued by what appeared to be small Greek temples set in distant greenery. These mythical structures proved to be the mausoleums of worthies such as the Eaton family, tombs that wouldn’t be out of place in a vampire movie.
Our futures can indeed prove strange. I had no idea then that I would end up living next to the cemetery, nor that my friends and I would run and bike through it almost daily. For the record all you bikers and hikers, once around the cemetery is about 7 kilometres.
Mt. Pleasant was established in 1873 on a 200-acre farm outside the city limits. Initially, only Roman Catholics or Anglicans were allowed to be buried here, but times fortunately have changed. Its 168,000 permanent residents now reflect Canada’s multi-cultural heritage in nationalities and faiths.
Which brings me to the resting place in the photo above. My running buddy and I spotted the little brass dog that guards the grave of Peter Worthington, founder of the right-leaning Toronto Sun newspaper and well-known journalist. What people may not know is that he was an eye witness to the assassination of Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby on November 24, 1963, as depicted in this world famous photo below.
A far sunnier and uplifting fact is that Peter Worthington was a strong believer in animal welfare and a long-time supporter of the Toronto Humane Society. We like to think that the little brass dog was once his pet who now stands by him forever.