The Toronto Necropolis – Fascinating Architectural Gem in Cabbagetown

Weenen-photo-NecropolisContributed by Kathy Flaxman. Cabbagetown boasts a stunning collection of homes, many from the Victorian era. However, there are also historically notable public spaces and buildings including a cemetery – the Toronto Necropolis! Gilles Huot, co-chair of the Cabbagetown Preservation Association regularly conducts walking tours of the Necropolis. “I love history and I find the history of Toronto and Cabbagetown fascinating,” Gilles says.” I’ve been living here for over 12 years and I’m happy to be able to help make it even more special.”

 
Visitors from as far away as Jersey UK, having read about the Necropolis, are anxious to see it. Gilles points out that the buildings and monuments are outstanding. “The buildings including chapel and porte-cochère were opened in 1872. Renowned Toronto architect Henry Langley designed them. He’s also buried in the Necropolis,” he says. Patricia McHugh in her book, Toronto Architecture, concurs, stating: “Hugh Langley’s High Victorian Gothic mortuary chapel is one of the city’s unspoiled architectural treasures, with its complicated tracery and bargeboards, finials and ironwork.”

 
Visitors to the Cemetery also have the opportunity to look for Victorian symbolism.  “Many monuments are topped by an urn with veil. The veil could represent a shroud or the “veil” between the world of the living and the one of the dead,” Gilles notes. “A lamb often represents a child.  Scrolls represent life and time unfolding. Open books can represent the bible or the “book of life.”

 
The Porte-cochere, designed by renowned Toronto architect Henry Langley and part of the Toronto Necropolis, shows some of the elaborate decorative style of this Cabagetown landmark, Joe Rozman of Weenen General Contracting Limited points out that the Weenen offices on Carlton Street, are located in a building that has history too – it dates back to 1862.  “We are committed to preserving our part of Cabbagetown’s important history,” he says.  “There are so many fascinating spots here– they make this a vibrant neighbourhood, and who knows, the new buildings from 2018 may be part of a heritage movement in the year 2118!”

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