Today I was in New Westminster EXPLORING.
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.
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