Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Dr. Jonathan Vance


Cataraqui Cemetery in Kingston, Ontario, is one of many garden cemeteries that were constructed in the nineteenth century as a marker of modernity and civility. Over the course of the nineteenth century, the changes to interment customs, spaces, and services that occurred in cemeteries like Cataraqui were key to the creation and expression of modernity in emerging Canadian cities. Garden Cemeteries not only provided more beautiful and healthful burial spaces, they gave expression to new configurations of the human relationship with the natural world, and provided new means of communicating spirituality, and respectability. Through the application of Romanticism and the absorption of consumerism, two dominant cultural trends of the nineteenth century, the cemetery became a central site of community and personal amelioration. The application of Romantic philosophical concepts to burial space allowed the creators of the garden cemetery to both extend and provide critique of the project of modernity and by the end of the nineteenth century, the cemetery was located firmly within the network of modern consumer society.

This dissertation seeks to reveal that burying the dead has always been about much more than burying the dead through an examination of the garden cemeteries of the nineteenth century as historically dynamic expressions of dominant social and cultural strands that developed over the course of the nineteenth century including Romanticism, Hygienic Reform, and consumerism.