Tuesday, February 16, 2010

ABC - Wednesday - E


Today I was in New Westminster EXPLORING.

I came across this cemetery that I was ENTIRELY unaware of, until today!
This is the Woodlands Memorial Garden. The cemetery of over 3000 souls who had died while in the care of Woodlands and ESSONDALE Insane Asylums. It was opened in 2007. Most of the people memorialized here, died between 1928 to the 1950's.
I think it is a beautiful memorial, that gives dignity to these people in death, that EVADED them in life. Prior to this redevelopment project, most people weren't even aware that a cemetery existed in what seemed like an overgrown meadow. It was only rediscovered when a group of people trying to research it interviewed some former Woodlands Residents, who knew of it. Most of the grave markers were found stacked in a shed and others were found in a nearby ravine. You can read more about it by clicking on this bold print to link to the landscape Architect's site.
Mounted on these monuments and walls are the original hand cast grave markers. The black granite slabs on the monuments have the names of the dead who's markers were destroyed or missing.
This plaque shows that even as early as 1878, someone felt that the Asylum was a dreadful place.
Now they are memorialized in a peaceful garden, filled with the heady fragrance of spring heather.

This sculpture is called 'Window Too High" and represents the windows that were placed so high in the walls, that the residents would have had difficulty seeing through them.
Click here for a link to a
VIDEO OF THE OPENING DEDICATION. In it, there is a moving performance by a former Woodlands resident.
Seeing the special people amongst the crowd, brought a tear to my eye to see the huge smile on his face at the end of his heartfelt song. Today they are able to be contributing members of society insted of shunned and hidden away out of the public eye.

For other contributions to ABC wednesday click on the button at the top of this page.


Herman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Herman said...

By means of the link that you have mentioned here I arrived at this document and perhaps you like to read this too as a supplement on what you have written in respect to diabled people.

Copy and paste the following lines (without spaces) in your browser, there you may read or download a PDF-file:


I hope it works this way.

The video linked in this post impressed me,and so did the singer Peter Bourne in this video.

Mara said...

This morning I had to pick up about twenty people with minor to severe mental disabilities. Some worked on the local 'care-farm' tending to crops and selling their own produce, some worked in a place where they would work with soaps and other stuff and some spent their day in a day-home, doing anything from singing to playing. But they all had a brilliant morning at an ice-rink: playing on the ice and some even skating!

It's a good thing that nowadays they aren't shut away anymore, the do contribute to society as much as everybody else!

Sally said...

Aw, this really touches my heart, Susan. Too many times society shuns those who work so very hard to be "normal" if there even is such a thing! My late brother, you may or may not know, lived with developmental challenges his entire life. He had the biggest heart of anyone, ever. I miss him so much.

Also, I ran across a letter that was written by my dad's great aunt back in l893; she was living in an asylum in Kentucky~her handwriting was beautiful. I get this out every now and then to re-read it.

Hope you're enjoying the Olympics~wanted to tell you, I discovered the television in my spare room gets that channel so I can watch. YEA!!!!! :)

LeAnn * ~ See Great Things said...

I feel like I am learning so much from all of my little visits on this day. Thanks for sharing all of this!

Penny said...

What a beautiful memorial garden and ceremony. It's a shame the people living in that institution, didn't experience the inclusion given to people with special needs today. Such a heartwarming performance by that man at the end of the video. Your E post is Excellent!

jay said...

This is a great post. What a shame asylums used to be such travesties. The truth is that people had no idea what mental illness really was or how to treat it, and they were afraid of it. Often people would be shut away for life, through nothing more than post-partum depression, or seizures. I'm glad these residents were finally honoured with respect and a memorial garden - just a shame they couldn't experience that respect while they lived.

On behalf of the team, thanks for taking part in ABC Wednesday this week! :)

Sheila said...

It's a very moving tribute to so many people who had such dreadful experiences in that asylum.

dana said...

The window sculpture is such a metaphor for many life situations. Thanks for sharing a great post.

Roger Owen Green said...

This is a surprisingly moving post.

(Note to the person with the long link - you might want to use a link shortener such as bit.ly or tinyurl)

Roger Owen Green said...

This is a surprisingly moving post.

(Note to the person with the long link - you might want to use a link shortener such as bit.ly or tinyurl)

Herman said...

Thanks to Roger Owen Green I could change the long address line into a short line like this one.


Splendid Little Stars said...

fascinating! What a beautiful memorial. The fact behind the window sculpture is chilling.

Sylvia K said...

What a beautiful post and so very moving, not sure how I missed it on Monday, but I'm glad I found it through your post for today. It is heartbreaking to realize how disabled people were treated then and it is wonderful that they have finally been recognized. Thank you for this!


Kathy said...

The memorials are awesome. Thank you for sharing the photos.

Tumblewords: said...

Thank you for this post! It's an excellent reminder.

Mary said...

I came her to see your skywatch, but will comment here instead. Oh my....this is very moving. Older insane asylums had to be very depressing places. I recently visited the cemetery of one in Athens, Ohio. I think the way they are displaying the markers on walls here is wonderful and the window sculpture is very emotional.

louisebah said...

what a beautiful place. haunting too. so glad i saw this :) thank you

Chaos is my Life said...

Well...you sure know how to bring a tear to my eye Susan! What a wonderful piece.