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Vandals cause severe damage at Picton’s City of the Dead

Photographs of damage by vandals at Glenwood Cemetery flooded Facebook last night and today. This one was posted by Daniel Cassell, who notes damage to some family stones.

Picton’s 145-year-old City of the Dead that serves as the final resting place for some of Prince Edward County’s most colourful residents, has been struck by vandals.

Thursday evening, Prince Edward OPP officers were notified of extensive vandalism to gravestones and monuments in the 62-acre park-like setting.

“Sometime between 3 pm and 7:30pm June 20, numerous gravestones and monuments around sections “H” and “F” of the Glenwood cemetery were damaged,” said Cst. Patrick Menard. “They extent of the damage is undetermined at this point but estimated to be in the thousands of dollars.”

Glenwood Cemetery is a Victorian City of the Dead, consecrated in 1873 by Rt. Rev. John Travers Lewis, Bishop of Ontario. Established in Queen Victoria’s reign, it is one of the most picturesque cemeteries in eastern Ontario.

There are more than 11,000 graves in Glenwood – about 1,000 of them unmarked.

Bert Biddle, Picton’s police chief for 37 years, was buried in Glenwood as was pioneer canner Wellington Boulter and Picton’s long-serving mayor Harvey J. McFarland. Also among its residents are Letitia Youmans, temperance pioneer, Jeanne Minhinnick, a recipient of the Order of Canada, Cecilia Folkard, winner of the Dow Award for Heroism, Dora Prinzen, a Dutch farm wife who hid seven airmen from the Germans during the Second World War and Anne Merrill, a First World War correspondent, poet and naturalist.

Police are continuing with their investigation and are asking that anyone with information on this incident to contact the OPP Provincial Communications Centre at 1-888-310-1122 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222- 8477(TIPS).

Learn more about the cemetery at Glenwood’s website; and read the stories behind many of its residents in the book ‘Hearts We Leave Behind – Glenwood City of the Dead’ by Margaret E. Haylock.

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  1. Paul Cole says:

    Maybe some of the wildlife photo’s captured on the trail camera’s could be sold or auctioned at Glenwood events to offset costs…

  2. Paul Cole says:

    I highly doubt the culprits will be caught, the most important thing in my opinion is preventing this from happening again hopefully the Community can rally and find a feasible solution. Video surveillance would require wiring and hard drive storage and the cost of monitoring these devices to insure they are operating properly could be expensive. Strategically placed Trail camera’s would likely be the best bet…

  3. Patti says:

    Very true Margaret.

  4. Margaret Haylock Capon says:

    Doubtful that Glenwood could afford these security measures, Patti. With the cremation rate so high far fewer full graves are sold these days which reduces revenue.

  5. Patti says:

    Yes, it would be expensive. And Glenwood might present unique challenges.

  6. Gary says:

    Wow! Wonder how they afford that. That doesn’t come cheap.

  7. Patti says:

    ADJ…other cemeteries have lights, cameras and sometimes security patrol – a private security company complemented by local enforcement.

  8. LBarrett says:

    Another relatively inexpensive idea to look into may be some well placed motion detector flood lights.

  9. ADJ says:

    Understood….I was more thinking of a fenced area that contained the more targeted sites as shown in the photos. Perhaps say a fence that would protect 6-8 graves. Don’t know what the answer is. Security cameras would help. What do other graveyards of this size do?

  10. Margaret Haylock-Capon says:

    The property is so large and the terrain so hilly that I expect it would be almost impossible to fence much of it ADJ and the cost would probably be prohibitive. Police patrols could help and also Neighbourhood Watch but in the end it remains a matter of someone being in the right place at the right time to catch vandals in the act. I expect those who regularly walk in the cemetery and people living in the immediate neighbourhood will be especially vigilant after what happened.

  11. ADJ says:

    Just wondering Margaret if a chain link or similar security fencing around the more “vulnerable” grave sites would be possible? Being they are more elaborate and very expensive to repair these seem to be the targets. I realize all are at risk when this wrecking crew chooses to destroy but I think you know what I mean.
    I really think this acreage should be part of the OPP coverage when patrolling. Bikes would work here wouldn’t they?
    Punishment for young offenders is a joke, there is no fear of breaking the law. In fact it’s a thrill to do it and not get caught.

  12. Margaret Haylock Capon says:

    A live-in caretaker is no guarantee against vandalism. A few years ago, when Mr.Dorey was the live-in superintendent 100 monuments in Glenwood were toppled as well as some in Mt. Olivet. This happened on a Saturday afternoon. He did not see or hear them. Hardly his fault as it is a 62=-acre property, much of it secluded. In researching my book Hearts We Leave Behind, the story of Glenwood, I read many old newspaper accounts. It is interesting that in early times there was no mention of vandalism within its gates. Young people in those days had far fewer opportunities than today’s youth yet it appears that they did not vent by going on sprees of destruction. Lack of jobs, lack of recreational facilities etc is no excuse for what happened in Glenwood last week. In the musical West Side Story there is a line that goes “I’m depraved on account of I’m deprived.” That simply does not excuse what took place in Glenwood no matter who the culprits might be. It was a vicious and cruel act for which there can be no excuses.

  13. Fred says:

    Ok ADJ; you are probably right. That’s where most minds immediately go to.

  14. ADJ says:

    Ya got that right Fred! At first I was a bit suspicious of that rowdy bunch of old geezers that hang out at Timmys leaving their walkers parked wherever they feel like. Just one bad apple you know. But, your right you know…innocent until proven guilty. I’m sure a stern warning to these individuals will prevent it from ever happening again. I’m joking! C’mon, a group hug will make it go away.

  15. Suel says:

    I am not surprised. This is not the first incident of this sort at Glenwood, and unfortunately won’t likely be the last. I’m so very dissapointed.
    Making assumptions and pointing fingers is a waste of time. Let’s clean this up, take action to make a plan for security and implement it so the next time it does happen, the culprits will be caught and dealt with accordingly.

  16. Fred says:

    ADJ; I unlike you assumed nothing. You pretty much headed for young dead beats.

  17. Chris Keen says:

    We do not know if young people committed this crime. Whatever help youth in this community might or might not need is beside the point. What I am sure of is that there is NO justification and NO rationalization to explain this heinous vandalism. The blame lies solely and completely with the individual(s) concerned.

  18. ADJ says:

    No Fred…no where did I state it was youth or otherwise. Don’t be so quick to “assume” anything. IF I was to point a finger then yes I might think it was a younger person with low self esteem, too lazy or motivated to look for a job, one with too much time on their hands and little guidance from the parents and a complicated home life.(read into that what you want)
    Interesting that it’s mentioned there are no jobs available for young people…Try and hire a part time person youth or otherwise for the going minimum wage to say weed the garden, clean the eavetrough, cut,lift and carry brush from the backyard to the frontyard. see how long that will last. It’s grunt work, you get dirty,scratched and sweat a lot. No thanks,,,I’m busy over here on my phone or I’m texting.Why do you think vineyards hire offshore workers to do the grunt work? They have tried to hire locally but it’s a lost cause. It costs way more to hire an offshore worker also but they are dependable.
    So to close Fred would you assume it was a bunch of darn married old guys with a hate for a cemetary that just wanted to release some frustrations?

  19. Dennis Fox says:

    I too got thinking about the quick assumption that it was the young who may be guilty – very good point about not jumping to that conclusion.

  20. Fred says:

    It is obvious from your post that you have already targeted youth as the culprits.

  21. ADJ says:

    I’d suggest it’s time for a complete fenced and gated entrance with a sign in/sign out admittance.It’s not a Park or a playground and should be respected.
    As far as a punishment for these vandals they are not concerned in the least…still laughing and bragging.It’s long overdue that a crime as this deserves an appropriate retribution. Publish the names,give them a record that will be recorded towards their education or job search. This will only be forgiven when they have supplied enough community service to basically write off this crime. Let them pitch in for the restoration, whatever.
    Incorrectly, Dennis seems to lay the blame on everyone but the guilty. These persons do not want to work! They think the world owes them a living.For the amount of effort and time spent doing this damage indicates there were more than just a couple of individuals.
    The police will get this sorted out eventually, there’s always someone that wants to brag on their big event. Too bad they can’t be punished in a way they will remember.

  22. Paul Cole says:

    Prior to Mrs. Oonk taking over as Caretaker the job included living in the house in the cemetery and that seemed to prevent vandalism. When you consider the value of some those huge stones as well the 3 dimensional Tiffany stained glass window in the chapel which was valued at around $50k when I worked there maybe a live in Caretaker should be re considered..

  23. Dennis Fox says:

    From one of the articles I read, this vandalism took place over several weeks. Were steps taken at the beginning to prevent this – were the police called? I think the suggestion for improved security and cameras is a good one.

  24. Gil Charlebois says:

    I really think it’s time for cameras and additional security for this ” monument” after this damage is fixed.(again). Video Warning Signs would be a deterrent???
    There is a section of WW2 Veterans Graves in Glenwood from the WW 2 training program that is History!!in this area.
    Let’s catch these AHoles and charge them!!!!

  25. Dennis Fox says:

    Stewart – since you are now officially running for office, I would highly suggest that you read the Community Foundation report. The youth in this community are in need of serious help – lack of job opportunities, lack of training, lack of food, lack of transportation, lack of money etc.. No one has suggested that we coddle them, but we do need to start recognizing that far too many have fallen between the cracks – thanks to the adults who keep making the same mistakes. Sorry Stewart, as horrible as it is, this kind of event does not come out of nowhere – it happens for many reasons – none of them obvious. However, most of those reasons are not created by our youth, but by the adults of our society who think they know it all and believe that the lack of the rod means we coddle our kids. What an easy excuse it is to ignore the problem and to blame the youth. No wonder the kids believe that we really do suck! Who can blame them?

  26. Susan says:

    Sad. I was surprised to read that this happened in the afternoon and yet undetected. Unusual that others would not be present at that time of day .

  27. Paul Cole says:

    I worked at Glenwood for a few summers in my younger days Charlie Dory was the Caretaker then and we righted a few of the smaller stones during a restoration project but Campbells Monuments had to come for the larger stones. Some of these headstones are unsafe mostly older ones without a cement pad under them they sink as graves settle and the old adhesives dry up. I’ve seen a lawnmower crushed by one when the stone was bumped while cutting grass. The hilly terrain makes up righting them difficult too. Very sad to see the damage done by vandals it will be very expensive and likely need to be done by professionals not volunteers best Idea maybe a fund raiser to help with the costs….

  28. Stewart Bailey says:

    You are a friend, and so, respectfully, we do not suck. Pathetic individuals damaged a sacred place. They have no age, no gender, nor any specific socioeconomic type. They are, as you point out, vandals. They need to be dealt with, and not coddled. Our grave sites are the essence who we were and where we came from. Our gravestones are the last piece of our history that should never be allowed to be damaged. If the cemetery staff need help putting everything back in place, I’m in. If anyone wants to join me, please do.

  29. Dennis Fox says:

    Glenwood Cemetery has been the site of vandalism for several years now – from this most recent destruction of grave sites to snowmobile and ATVs driving through it, to the killing of the geese. These are not acts to laugh at or to ignore. So just what is the reason for these attacks on what should be a respected place? Don’t blame it all on the kids – our community is changing before our eyes and most don’t like it, but remain quiet. I think our young people are letting us know that we suck.

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