Pioneer cemetery in Oshawa needs spring (and summer) cleaning volunteers

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Published April 10, 2024 at 2:38 pm

With its founder buried there, Parkwood Estates takes an active role in the City-owned Union Cemetery and is calling on its volunteer base willing to donate two hours a month to help maintain and preserve the grave markers of the Soldiers’ Plot in the pioneer cemetery on Oshawa’s west side.

The group meets on designated Sunday mornings during the warmer months to inspect and clean the grave makers of the 187-year-old cemetery, using a prescribed method by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

The Union Presbyterian Church is built on what is now Thornton Road and King Street in 1837 by Secessionist Minister Robert Thornton. Most churches of the day were built on ‘God’s Acre,’ providing enough room for a church and burying ground.

Thornton’s church, however, was built on 19 acres and from those pioneer beginnings Oshawa Union Cemetery has grown to 32 acres in size, with more than 25,000 burial plots. Many of the area’s pioneers and their children are buried in ‘Thornton’s Burying Ground,’ including Parkwood and General Motors Canada founder Col. Robert ‘Sam’ McLaughlan, the Pedlar family and artist Florence Helena McGillivray.

Those interested in sprucing up the gravesites once a month can email Samantha George, Parkwood Estates’ curator, at [email protected]

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