Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Greenlaw Cemetery, Caledon

Greenlaw Cemetery, Caledon, Peel, Ontario
Greenlaw Cemetery (sometimes referred to as Baker's Cemetery) is one of numerous small cemeteries in the historic township of Caledon northwest of Toronto. It is the only remnant of the hamlet of Greenlaw, better known as The Grange.

When Caledon was surveyed and opened for settlement shortly after the War of 1812, most of the early settlement was along the Credit River. At nearby Belfountain, settlement began 1825 when a sawmill was built. Greenlaw, located at the intersection of Mississauga Road and The Grange Sideroad, developed during the 1850s, but went into decline during the 1920s.

The cemetery marks the location of a Congregational Church (The Congregational Church merged with the Methodists and Presbyterians in 1925 to form the United Church of Canada). In 1852, Michael Baker deeded 3/8 of an acre for a church, cemetery and parsonage, but it is unclear what denomination initially used the church. In 1865 the church and cemetery were sold to the Congregationalists. The church closed around 1900, however, burials continued until 1941. In addition to the church, Greenlaw was also the location of a post office, blacksmith, and Temperance Hall.

Greenlaw Cemetery in 2011
When local historian William Perkins Bull visited the cemetery in the 1930s, he described it as being, "another neglected and overgrown cemetery with long grass, logs scattered here and there, and an abandoned church." He described the church as being "roughcast" and "built on a stone foundation." About 1940 the church was demolished and some years later the gravestones were gathered together into a cairn. The gravestones, unfortunately, were placed far too close together, making reading the inscriptions difficult. Transcriptions were prepared in 1974 and again in 1984. In 2014, the Town of Caledon rebuilt the cairn, making it much easier to read and photograph the gravestones.

Michael Baker 1795-1873
The earliest gravestone is that of Michael Baker who died in 1873. Michael was born in Williamsburgh Township, on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River, in 1795. His father, Conrad Baker was an United Empire Loyalist who had served in the King's Royal Regiment of New York during the American Revolution. During the War of 1812, Michael served in the 1st Regiment Dundas Militia. In 1818, the same year he married Caterina Frank, Michael petitioned the government of Upper Canada for land as the son of a United Empire Loyalist. He was granted 200 acres in Caledon and was one of the earliest settlers.

The most recent gravestone records the deaths of Sarah E. Tomlinson and her husband Henry Scott in 1939 and 1941 respectively.

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