History buffs and those interested in genealogy already know they can learn a lot by heading out and researching the stones and monuments in their local cemetery. If you're lucky, you'll also find a knowledgeable tour guide who has been there doing some of the work for you.
Robin McKee (Historical Perceptions) is a Hamilton researcher and writer who provides free historical cemetery tours at the Hamilton Municipal Cemetery.
As the Hamilton Cemetery is Canada's first and oldest municipally owned and operated cemetery (since 1847), both its physical location and the headstones of the interred are a rich resource about local history and interesting/important historic persons.
Robin is currently running a series of cemetery tours spring-through-fall based on various themes related to his research on different interred individuals he has identified, as well as past events.
Hamilton Municipal Cemetery
Robin's Stories in the Stones tours run May through November.
Still to run in 2015 are:
The Disasters Tour - October 3, 2015 The Masonic Tour - October 17, 2015
The American Civil War Tour - October 24, 2015 War of 1812 Tour - October 31, 2015 The Veterans Tour - November 7 and 14, 2015
Tours begin at 11:00 a.m., and run for two hours, rain or shine, so wear appropriate clothing. and foot gear.
Of particular interest to the Hamilton area, is the War of 1812 that lasted 2.5 years. In June of 1813, the Americans had advanced on the British who had retreated to Burlington Heights (part of Hamilton Cemetery sits on Burlington Heights). The American forces were battened down in Stoney Creek (about 18 km E/SE). The British were informed by a civilian, Billy Green, and decided on a night attack which was successful. Ultimately, the Americans retreated back to Fort George.
Montage of 1812 Wikimedia Commons Public Domain
The Burlington Heights hillock where the British had planned their original stand is still a high, grassy mound in the cemetery, and there are commemorative stones to the Stoney Creek and other events throughout.
Robin has many informative stories to share about interred heroes who went to war, firefighters, local Masons, disasters, famous Hamiltonians, and disappearances so keep an eye out on Historical Perceptions for current tours, and upcoming tours in 2016!