Sites of Grave Meaning: The Heritage of Human Remains on the Rideau Canal [thesis]

Casey Gray
The Rideau Canal in south-eastern Ontario falls under three major heritage designations. However, the cemeteries that house the bodies of the labourers who built the canal are left out of official heritage discourses of the canal for several reasons including: a lack of historical and archaeological research on the canal labourers after their deaths; specific cultural and geographical conditions under which labourers were interred, which have led to misconceptions of "unmarked" and "forgotten"
more » ... d" and "forgotten" cemeteries and; the inability of current policy and legislation used to administer the canal to recognize human remains as contributing to heritage value. This thesis demonstrates how the bodies of canal labourers currently contribute to the heritage value of the canal and their own local communities both in terms of tangible and intangible cultural heritage, and advocates for a shift towards a new heritage discourse of the canal which recognizes this contribution. ii ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I wish primarily to thank my co-supervisors, Dr. Jerzy Elżanowski and Dr. Reade Davis for their infinite support throughout my research. Their generosity and guidance allowed me to transcend disciplinary boundaries and explore the roots of sepulchral imagination in a project that has been both thrilling and challenging from anthropological and critical heritage perspectives. I would also like to acknowledge Professor Susan Ross as well as my colleagues and faculty within the School of Indigenous and Canadian Studies for their support throughout my time at Carleton. This research could not have been conducted without the enlightening and informative contributions made by the research participants and community members of Chaffey's Locks, Newboro and other municipalities, and particularly the expert knowledge of Ken Watson, Neil Patterson and Sue Warren. Thanks to my family and friends in British Columbia, and my new friends in Ottawa for listening to countless ideas about skeletons and ghosts. To my parents, Ken and Sherry, and grandparents, Mike and Maureen, whose love and support can be felt from 3000 kilometers away. Thanks to Adam and Nicole, Rachael, Cassie and Jacob for making me laugh when I need it the most. And finally, my appreciation to the innumerable and mostly unnamed Irish and French Canadian labourers (among others) who constructed the canal along which I walk, think, feel, and have now written my thesis.
doi:10.22215/etd/2018-13290 fatcat:rbizser64rb3dpkamrwrbac36m