An Introductory Bibliography on Cultural Studies Relating to Death and Dying in Canada

Gerald L. Pocius
Memorial University

1 What follows is an introductory and obviously incomplete bibliography of English-language works dealing with death and dying in Canada. To be more specific, these works are concerned primarily with the cultural practices and physical artifacts that relate to death and dying in this country. I have omitted works dealing with native peoples; there is an enormous literature — often based on archaeological samples of actual burials — on this topic, and it merits a bibliography of its own. I have omitted strictly demographic studies of mortuary trends and the enormous amount of sociological material that is aimed at helping the bereaved cope with death in modern society. Finally, I have not included the numerous accounts of supernatural narratives that often have an obvious connection with the death phenomenon.

2 The material and cultural aspects of death have been extensively researched for over ten years now in both Europe and the United States, but the number of works devoted to this topic here in Canada is still small. Those interested in the range of research conducted in the United States should consult: Thomas A. Zaniello, "American Gravestone: An Annotated Bibliography," Folklore Forum 9 (1976): 115-37; Nancy Buckeye, "Early American Gravestone Studies: The Structure of the Literature," pp. 130-36, and "Bibliography of Gravestone Studies," pp. 137-41, both in Peter Benes, ed., Puritan Gravestone Art, The Dublin Seminar for New England Folklife Annual Proceedings 1976 (Dublin: Dublin Seminar for New England Folklife, 1976); "Bibliography of Gravestone Studies," in Peter Benes, ed., Puritan Gravestone Art Ⅱ, Dublin Seminar for New England Folklife Annual Proceedings 1978 (Dublin: Dublin Seminar for New England Folklife, 1979), pp. 149-58. Two periodicals in North America now deal with this material: The Association for Gravestone Studies Newsletter and Markers. An extensive bibliography that includes a great deal of material on gravestones and cemeteries in the British Isles and Ireland can be found in my M.A. thesis (listed below), pp. 451-88. The classic European work is Philippe Aries, The Hour of Our Death (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1981); also see John McManners, Death and the Enlightenment: Changing Attitudes to Death Among Christians and Unbelievers in Eighteenth-Century France (New York: Oxford University Press, 1981). Anthropological introductions include Richard Huntington and Peter Metcalf, Celebrations of Death: The Anthropology of Mortuary Rituals (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1979); Maurice Bloch and Jonathan Perry, eds., Death and the Regeneration of Life (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1982).

AUGIMERI, Maria C. "Death and Funeral Customs." In Calabrese Folklore, pp. 111-14. Canadian Centre for Folk Culture Studies Paper 56. National Museum of Man Mercury Series. Ottawa: National Museum of Man, 1985. Brief comments on mourning, funerals, prayers and devotions relating to the dead.
BOWDEN, Bruce, and Roger Hall. "The Impact of Death: An Historical and Archival Reconnaissance into Victorian Ontario." Archivaria 14 (1982): 93-105. A survey of some of the thematic issues that provide possible directions for research on the Victorian attitudes in Ontario toward death, using various archival materials as the basis for suggestions. The wide range of primary source material detailed by the authors maps out a number of research areas as yet uninvestigated.
BUCKLEY, Anna-Kaye, with Christine Cartwright. "The Good Wake: A Newfoundland Case Study." Culture & Tradition 7 (1983): 6-16. A discussion of the functions of the typical Newfoundland wake and funeral, based largely on archival sources. Describes the activities that take place during the wake and funeral, relating them to the general community social pattern. Ritual activities lessen the disruptive nature of death, while social pressures ensure that all community members participate in providing what is considered an appropriate wake and burial.
BUTLER, Gary R. "Sacred and Profane Space: Ritual Interaction and Process in the Newfoundland House Wake." Material History Bulletin 15 (Fall 1982): 27-32. An examination of the spatial relationships that develop within the context of the traditional Newfoundland wake, including both the physical deployment of space during the wake and the practice of ritual separation during the symbolic "distancing" of the dead. These features are examined through a comparative analysis of wakes in both Catholic and Protestant communities.
CAPLAN, Ronald, ed. "How We Buried Our Dead." In Down North: The Book of Cape Breton's Magazine, pp. 231-39. Toronto: Doubleday Canada, 1980. Interviews with various Cape Breton residents about practices relating to wakes, funerals and cemeteries.
CARNOCHAN, Janet. Inscriptions and Graves in the Niagara Peninsula. Niagara Historical Society, no. 19. Niagara-on-the-Lake: Niagara Advance Print, 1910. Primarily a collection of epitaphs, with some comments about the cemeteries of the region.
CARTWRIGHT, Christine. "Death and Dying in Newfoundland." Culture & Tradition 7 (1983): 3-5. A survey of research conducted in Newfoundland on death and dying.
COUMANS, Camilla C. "Ornamental Iron Grave Markers." Waterloo Historical Society Annual Volume 49 (1962): 72-75. A brief discussion of several iron gravemarkers found in Waterloo County cemeteries.
CREIGHTON, Helen. "Death." In Bluenose Magic: Popular Beliefs and Superstitions in Nova Scotia, pp. 147-50. Toronto: Ryerson, 1968. A listing of various beliefs connected to death, wakes and funerals.
FORDYCE, A.D. The Auld Kirk-Yard, Fergus: In It, and About It. Fergus: author, 1882. Primarily a list of inscriptions with some cemetery data.
———. Gleanings from the Church-Yard: A Selection of Old Inscriptions. Fergus: author, 1880. Primarily a list of inscriptions.
———. The Monumental Inscriptions in the Cemetery at Belleside, Fergus (Ontario). Fergus: author, 1883. Primarily a list of inscriptions.
HANKS, Carole. Early Ontario Gravestones. Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1974. Mainly a pictorial survey of gravestones. Brief introductory chapters examine materials, craftsmen, forms, epitaphs and motifs.
HOWLEY, Michael Francis. "The Old Basque Tombstones of Placentia." Royal Society of Canada, Transactions, 2nd ser., 8, sec. 2 (1902): 79-92. A description of the early Basque tombstones in Placentia, Newfoundland, their possible origins and dates.
KLYMASZ, Robert B. "Speaking At/About/With the Dead: Funerary Rhetoric Among Ukrainians in Western Canada." Canadian Ethnic Studies 7, no. 2 (1975): 50-56. A discussion of three verbal genres used by Ukrainian-Canadians to communicate and maintain contact with the deceased: the traditional, oral funeral lament; the obituary and/or commemorative piece found in the pages of the press; the funeral sermon delivered by the priest officiating at the funeral service.
KNIGHT, David B. Cemeteries as Living landscapes. Ottawa: Ontario Genealogical Society, 1973. One of the few studies that examines the cemetery as a cultural artifact, addressing issues such as cemetery status and layout, and burial location as indicators of cultural values. Based primarily on Ontario materials.
———. "Geographic Education and Field Exercises: Cemeteries as a Site for Analysis." The Monograph (Ontario Geography Teachers Association) no. 2 (1970-71): 16-18. Comments on cemeteries as a learning resource for local studies.
KOBAYASHI, Teruko. "Folk Art in Stone: Pennsylvania German Gravemarkers in Ontario." Waterloo Historical Society Annual Volume 70 (1982): 90-113. A survey of the types of gravestones made by Pennsylvania-German immigrants to southern Ontario. The essay lists a series of cemeteries and discusses the major motifs found in each place.
MILLIGAN, Betty Ann, and Deborah Trask. A Cemetery Survey: Teacher's Manual. Halifax: Nova Scotia Museum, n.d. A student's guide on how to analyze cemeteries for a class project in order to learn about the history of a local community.
MORSE, William Inglis. "Gravestones of Acadie." In Gravestones of Acadie, and Other Essays on Local History, Genealogy and Parish Records of Annapolis County, Nova Scotia, chap. 1, pp. 2-15. London: Smith, 1929. A listing of several cemeteries, with brief notes on origins, materials, and the evolution of gravestone form.
———. "Monumental Art of Nova Scotia." In The Land of the New Adventure: The Georgian Era in Nova Scotia, chap. 3, pp. 92-133. London: Quaritch, 1932. A survey of gravestone types and epitaphs, with comments on early craftsmen and their work. Provided are descriptions of various stones, their inscriptions, and some commentary on actual designs.
OSBORNE, Brian S. "The Cemeteries of the Midland District of Upper Canada: A Note on Mortality in a Frontier Society." Pioneer America 6, no. 1 (1974): 46-55. A study of mortality using gravestones as a data source. The author examines the periodicity and seasonality of death and the age of the deceased. He finds that this frontier society was characterized by high infant and female mortality, pronounced seasonal differences in mortality, and peak years of mortality associated with outbreaks of epidemics.
PATTERSON, Nancy-Lou. "German-Alsatian Iron Gravemarkers in Southern Ontario Roman Catholic Cemeteries." Material History Bulletin 18 (Fall 1983): 35-36. A brief discussion of cross-shaped iron gravemarkers made by local blacksmiths in the Waterloo region.
———. "The Iron Cross and the Tree of Life: German-Alsatian Gravemarkers in Waterloo Region and Bruce County Roman Catholic Cemeteries." Ontario History 68 (1976): 1-16. A survey of the iron gravemarkers in this area of southern Ontario, concentrating primarily on the typical symbols used. The author offers interpretations of the historical backgrounds for these images. Some mention is made, as well, of the cemeteries in which these markers are located.
POCIUS, Gerald. L. "Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Newfoundland Gravestones: Self-Sufficiency, Economic Specialization, and the Creation of Artifacts." Material History Bulletin 12 (Fall 1981): 1-16. A discussion of the origins of Newfoundland gravestones, an artifact tradition originally dominated by imported markers, but gradually replaced by locally made varieties by the mid-nineteenth century. The earliest gravestones used in Newfoundland came from England and Ireland; when the economic base shifted to St. John's in the early 1800s, many trades, including gravestone carving, developed locally. Far from being an artifactually self-sufficient culture in earlier times, Newfoundland was marked by a high degree of division of labour.
———. "The Place of Burial: Spatial Focus of Contact of the Living with the Dead in Eastern Areas of the Avalon Peninsula of Newfoundland." M.A. thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland, 1975. An examination of gravestones and cemeteries in eastern Newfoundland, looking at both historical and ethnographic factors that have shaped current patterns. Gravestones remained primarily a specialized artifact that had little input from local traditions. Other practices, however, such as the elaborate decoration of graves, enabled the living to maintain continued social bonds with deceased loved ones.
RUSSELL, Lynn, and Patricia Stone. "Gravestone Carvers of Early Ontario." Material History Bulletin 18 (Fall 1983): 37-39. A discussion of the photographic survey of the province's gravestones which the authors are conducting. General comments on the initial findings dealing with symbols and style chronology are given, as well as some details on several carvers.
SALO, Matt T., and Sheila M.G. Salo. "Death." In The Kalderas in Eastern Canada, pp. 162-74. Canadian Centre for Folk Culture Studies Paper 21. National Museum of Man Mercury Series. Ottawa: National Museum of Man, 1977. A summary of beliefs about wakes, funerals and burial, as well as post-funeral memorial feasts, and customs relating to cemetery visits.
SHIMABUKU, Daniel M., and Gary F. Hall. St. Paul's Cemetery, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada: Description and Interpretation of Gravestone Designs and Epitaphs. Occasional Papers in Anthropology No. 10. Halifax: Department of Anthropology, Saint Mary's University, 1981. Using archaeological theory and methods, the authors develop several typologies to analyze gravestones in St. Paul's Cemetery. Detailed analysis is provided by decade on gravestone iconography, form and epitaphs. Contains several extensive appendices listing demographic information, and a partial inventory of gravestone forms and epitaphs.
TRASK, Deborah E. Life How Short, Eternity How Long: Gravestone Carving and Carvers in Nova Scotia. Halifax: Nova Scotia Museum, 1978. A survey of gravestone types and carvers in Nova Scotia, with sections that deal with particular craftsmen, and specific styles and motifs. An extensive checklist is provided of stonecarvers and marble works found in the province.