by Gwyneth Pearce
The Toronto Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society celebrated the completion of a 20-year project in March 2011 with the publication of the transcription of grave markers at St. John’s Norway Cemetery and Crematorium.
St. John’s Norway Cemetery, also known as St. John the Baptist Norway Cemetery or St. John’s Cemetery, Berkeley, was originally established as an Anglican churchyard in 1853 on three acres of land donated by Charles Coxwell Small. (The community was known as Norway or Berkeley at various times.) The first recorded burial in the cemetery was that of William Dawes, a local farmer, who died on 19 July 1854. The cemetery was consecrated by Bishop John Strachan in July 1855. It is now inter-denominational, and its grounds have expanded over the past century and a half to cover about 35 acres of land at the northwest corner of Kingston Road and Woodbine Avenue in Toronto’s east end.
The transcription of this cemetery was a massive project that took two decades to complete and involved dozens of dedicated volunteers. The project was headed up by Branch Cemeteries Co-ordinator Jack Tyson, who obtained the necessary approvals, handled the paperwork and logistics, and organized teams of transcribers, inputters, indexers, proofreaders and editors.
The field work for the project took place at the cemetery itself. Transcribers set out week after week, typically in pairs, equipped with spray bottles of water, probes and digging tools, and went up and down the rows of tombstones, carefully recording what they found on each one. They handed over their notes to be typed up by computer inputters, and then made two more full sweeps of the cemetery to check and update the computer printouts. All the data was indexed, proofread and redacted several times. Final proofreading and editing was done by Jeannette Tyson.
The St. John’s Norway Cemetery transcription is 3454 pages in length and contains about 55,000 names in its index. It has been published on CD only, in a fully searchable PDF format. The cost is $30.00 plus $2.50 postage and handling. To order the transcription (Publication number TRN-009), visit our Cemetery Publications page.
For more information about this project or how to help with ongoing transcribing of Toronto cemeteries, contact Jack Tyson at email@example.com