Oshawa’s Union Cemetery

From Historical Oshawa, Vol I-III, by the Oshawa Community Museum

The Oshawa Union Cemetery was established in 1875 by the Oshawa Union Cemetery Company.  Prior to 1875, there was a burial ground located in this same vicinity, but as the community grew, the cemetery’s size became inadequate. It was to remedy this condition that the Oshawa Union Cemetery Company was instituted.

Oshawa's Union Cemetery

Oshawa’s Union Cemetery

The land lying to the west of Hwy. 2 entrance is the original Presbyterian Cemetery, which in 1848 was given by Robert and Euphemia Spears to the Presbyterian congregation of Whitby.  It was used by the communities of both towns as a burying ground until 1875 when it came under the ownership of the holding company.

The Oshawa Union Cemetery Company decided that the needs of the community would be best served by leaving the cemetery in the same location and purchasing the property around it.  Due to the location of the new property, it was felt that the new cemetery should still be made available to both Oshawa and Whitby as a union burial ground.  The plan for the laying out of this “new” cemetery was prepared by landscape architect H.A. Englehardt.

It wasn’t until 1922 that the cemetery became the property of the town through the generosity of George W. McLaughlin, who purchased the shares held by the Ontario Loan & Savings Co., and William H. Thomas.  He then presented the property as a gift to Oshawa.  He also secured the title deeds to the adjacent Presbyterian Cemetery.  The land comprised about 30 acres.  In addition, Mr. McLaughlin gave $500.00 which was to be used to administer the bodies of deceased W.W.I soldiers to the Veterans’ Plots.

The Mausoleum

The Mausoleum

The large Mausoleum which can be seen from Hwy. 2 was constructed by Canada Mausoleums Ltd., and granted to the City of Oshawa on the 26th January, 1926.  The cemetery office located at the front gates was built in 1934 and was originally used as a funeral chapel.

Today, Union Cemetery appears as a serene stretch of land shaded by pine and cedar trees.  People can be found using the cemetery grounds for walks, bike rides, and as a resource for tracing ones family roots.  A booklet titled By-Laws, Rules and Regulations of the Union Cemetery Company, 1875 describes the cemetery as “. . . large and handsomely laid out grounds . . . which will not only be a quiet and worthy resting place for the dead, but by the care bestowed upon it, be a credit to the living . . . “.

Please join the Oshawa Community Museum as we tour through this historic cemetery.  Our Union Cemetery Tour is becoming an anticipated annual event.

2013 tour: Sunday  September 8, at 2PM; meet staff at the front gates

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