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The Anglican St. James Cemetery is the eternal resting place of many of the prominent families of York and Toronto. Monuments and mausoleums are engraved with the names Jarvis, Ridout, Gooderham, Cawthra, Baldwin and Osler among others. Stories of success and scandal abound. 281 nameless victims of the Irish famine are also buried here.
The entrance to the cemetery is located at the intersection of Bloor and Parliament Streets, overlooking the Don River ravine.
The cemetery opened in July 1844 and is the oldest cemetery in Toronto still in operation. In 1844 most of the people in Toronto lived south of Queen Street West and the cemetery’s present location during that era must have been regarded as being outside city limits.
The cemetery itself is home to the Chapel of St. James-the-Less which sites atop a knoll at the highest point in the cemetery. In its vigorous, harmonious composition, this small funeral chapel is a splendid example of Victorian Gothic design. Its sense of strength and spirituality is derived from the subtle contrast of its stone walls, enveloping roofs, and soaring spire. Erected in 1860 and opened in 1861, the chapel was designed by Frederick William Cumberland and Storm, one of Toronto’s leading 19th-century architectural firms. It and was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1990.