GRAVE SITES OF CANADIAN PRIME MINISTERS MONITORING REPORT

THE RIGHT HONOURABLE WILLIAM LYON MACKENZIE KING

SUBJECT:

The Right Hon. William Lyon Mackenzie King Grave Site Grave Sites of Canadian Prime Ministers Monitoring Report Mount Pleasant Cemetery, 375 Mount Pleasant Road, Toronto, ON, M4T 2V8 Madame Julie Dompierre, Director Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada (HSMBC) Secretariat Les Terrasses de la Chaudière 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, 5th floor Quebec K1A 0M5 National Program for the Grave Sites of Canadian Prime Ministers

TO:

FOR:

[Grave Sites of Canadian Prime Ministers Monitoring Report: The Right Hon. William Lyon Mackenzie King]

Page 1 of 14

GRAVE SITES OF CANADIAN PRIME MINISTERS MONITORING REPORT
PREPARED BY: Janet Wright Senior Conservation Advisor Heritage Programs Branch Heritage Conservation and Commemoration Directorate Gatineau, QC, K1A 0M5 27 February 2012

DATE:

1.0 GENERAL INFORMATION DATE OF INSPECTION: PC FIELD UNIT CONTACT: 19 September 2011 Dhruba Subedi Asset Manager SW Ontario Field Unit 905 308-8954 Overcast, 16oC

CLIMATIC CONDITIONS:

GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF THE GRAVE ENVIRONMENT: The gravesite of the Right Honourable William Lyon Mackenzie King is situated in Mount Pleasant Cemetery which is 83-hectare property located in the heart of urban Toronto. The cemetery itself, which was established in 1876, is a beautifully landscaped property characterized by mature trees, well manicured lawns, shrubs and winding paths and roadways laid out in the asymmetrical and naturalistic manner of the Picturesque landscape tradition. Mount Pleasant Cemetery is a protected heritage site under the Ontario Heritage Act and it has also been designated a National Historic Site of Canada. The King Family plot is located in the northeast sector the cemetery on the edge of one of the asphalt roadway. The gravestone of Mackenzie King is a low granite marker laid flat on the ground. Other grave markers within the plot consist of the ornately carved Celtic cross commemorating King’s parents and a higher sarcophagus-like marker to King’s brother, Dougall King, and members of his family. 2.0 COMPONENTS – OBSERVATION AND RECOMMENDED ACTIONS 1. Awareness Panel Observation: The awareness panel is situated an appropriate distance from the King family plot and adjacent to the flagpole. The cast aluminum sign is in good condition. The seal around
[Grave Sites of Canadian Prime Ministers Monitoring Report: The Right Hon. William Lyon Mackenzie King]

Page 2 of 14

GRAVE SITES OF CANADIAN PRIME MINISTERS MONITORING REPORT
the oval photograph of King is intact and the grey background paint shows little sign of chipping or fading. The last monitoring report, which was prepared in 2005, noted that some paint along the side of the panel had chipped off. The recommended touch up was not carried out and, as shown in the photographs below, the paint has continued to wear away. This defect does not, however, interfere with the legibility of the sign. The black metal stand is in good condition. Although the paint at the ground level is chipped in a few places, this defect does not significantly mar the appearance of the sign. Recommended Action: Low priority: Touch up the awareness panel and metal stand with matching paint.

Flaking Paint in 2005

Awareness panel Condition of Paint in 2011

[Grave Sites of Canadian Prime Ministers Monitoring Report: The Right Hon. William Lyon Mackenzie King]

Page 3 of 14

GRAVE SITES OF CANADIAN PRIME MINISTERS MONITORING REPORT
2. Flagpole Observation: In the 2005 report it was noted that that the metal cap at the base of the flag pole was dented and the black anodized coating on the flag pole was being worn away in places. This is caused by the wire loop which holds the bottom of the flag to the pole. Originally the wire had a plastic protective casing but this as broken away. Because this is a recurring problem with all the flag poles at the Prime Ministers’ gravesites in the Southwestern Ontario Field Unit, the manufacturer should be contacted to find out if there is an alternative solution to this feature. (Note: The flag poles observed in Nova Scotia featured a nylon cord which was less abrasive.) The dented metal cap has not been repaired but it is not a highly noticeable defect. It has been noted at several sites that the metal cap, which is intended both to protect and mask the bolts and brackets attaching the pole to the concrete base, does function effectively as it tends to hold moisture and debris under the cap rather than keep them out. This issue should also be raised with the manufacturer to determine if there is an alternate solution to this feature which would provide better protection for the metal attachments. Recommended Actions: High priority: Contact the manufacturer of the flag pole to discuss options for providing a more durable and less abrasive attachment for the bottom of the flag. High priority: Contact the manufacturer of the flag pole to discuss options for providing a metal base cap that provides more effective protection for the steel bolts and brackets at the base of the pole.

[Grave Sites of Canadian Prime Ministers Monitoring Report: The Right Hon. William Lyon Mackenzie King]

Page 4 of 14

GRAVE SITES OF CANADIAN PRIME MINISTERS MONITORING REPORT

Dent in the side of the metal base.

Flagpole

Wearing away of black anodized coating.

3. 125th Confederation Anniversary Plaque

Chipping and minor rusting at the base of stand.

125 Confederation Anniversary Plaque. [Grave Sites of Canadian Prime Ministers Monitoring Report: The Right Hon. William Lyon Mackenzie King]

th

Page 5 of 14

GRAVE SITES OF CANADIAN PRIME MINISTERS MONITORING REPORT
Observation: The plaque is in good condition with no sign of wear to the maroon background paint. Some black paint has chipped off the black metal stand exposing it to minor rusting but this is limited to very bottom of the stand. The 2005 report observed that the marker was placed too close to the Prime Minister’s gravesite and it intrudes on the grouping of the family stones. This is a valid criticism and the eventual relocation of the marker closer to the awareness panel and flagpole is recommended. Recommended Action: Medium priority: Consideration should be give to relocating the 125th Confederation Anniversary Plaque to a location closer to the awareness panel and away from the gravesite itself. If this were to be carried out the touch ups to the paint could be carried out at the same time. 4. Former Prime Minister’s Grave Marker Observation: The Mackenzie King gravestone is a carved granite stone laid flat on the ground in the manner of a sarcophagus lid. The stone is level and undamaged. There is some build up of biotic matter which creates slightly greenish blotches over the stone but the discolouration is slight and lends patina of age rather than an appearance of neglect. There are three footstones associated with the Mackenzie King’s gravesite. The words “Father”, “Mother,” and “WLMK” are carved into the stones. To the left of the gravesite are two smaller stones, one inscribed with “King” and the other with a simple cross. These stones are set into the ground and there is a tendency for the grass to grow over the stones. At this point, however, the stones are clearly legible and the Mount Pleasant Cemetery staff periodically edge the stones so that they do not become overgrown. It was observed that coins, stones and other items were being placed on the gravesite by visitors. A pot of artificial flowers had also been placed in front of the grave and small bed of flowers planted. According to the cemetery manager the site is visited frequently by members of the public and they often leave some token of their visit. It is the policy of the cemetery to dispose of these items when they become unsightly. The flower bed will be grassed over if it is not maintained. Recommended Action: Ongoing: Monitor condition of grave marker and gently clean stone if soiling becomes more evident.

[Grave Sites of Canadian Prime Ministers Monitoring Report: The Right Hon. William Lyon Mackenzie King]

Page 6 of 14

GRAVE SITES OF CANADIAN PRIME MINISTERS MONITORING REPORT

Mackenzie King’s gravestone.

Coins, stones and other items are frequently placed on the stone.

Footstone engraved with “Father”.

Two smaller stones located to the left of the King gravestone.

5. HSMBC’s Plaque / Other Plaques or Other Grave Markers Observation: In addition to the Mackenzie King grave marker the King family plot includes a tall, intricately carved Celtic cross that marks the graves of John King and his wife Isabel Grace who were Mackenzie King’s parents. Behind the Mackenzie King grave is a taller sarcophagus-like tombstone which marks the grave of Dougall King (King’s younger brother), his wife and two sons.
[Grave Sites of Canadian Prime Ministers Monitoring Report: The Right Hon. William Lyon Mackenzie King]

Page 7 of 14

GRAVE SITES OF CANADIAN PRIME MINISTERS MONITORING REPORT
Both are carved in granite. The Celtic cross is in good condition although there is some slight staining from the surrounding trees. The Dougall King gravesite shows more signs of wear and the granite is more extensively discoloured by greenish, algae-like patches. Two corners of the sarcophagus lid are chipped on the underside which is probably the result of being hit by lawn mowers. The letters on the gravestone are formed of cut metal attached by nails to the stone. The lettering is tarnished, difficult to read, and a few of the letters have disappeared.

Celtic Cross to Mackenzie King’s parents.

Dougall King family gravestone.

Photograph of the lettering on the Dougall King gravestone with one of the letters missing.

Chips on the underside of the granite slab.

Recommended Action: Medium Priority: Repair the lettering on the Dougall King gravestone and clean granite to remove biotic matter.
[Grave Sites of Canadian Prime Ministers Monitoring Report: The Right Hon. William Lyon Mackenzie King]

Page 8 of 14

GRAVE SITES OF CANADIAN PRIME MINISTERS MONITORING REPORT
6. Vegetation (trees, shrubs, plant material, lawn)

Condition of the lawn in 2005.

Condition of the Lawn in 2011.

Observation: The vegetation is managed by the staff of Mount Pleasant Cemetery. In summer the cyclical maintenance includes cutting the grass every five days and regular raking and the removal any debris or garbage. Edging around stone elements is carried out on a multi-year cycle or when notified of a problem. The Mackenzie King gravesite receives considerable traffic and, for this reason the site is top-dressed and seeded once or twice a year. Although the lawn in front of the gravestone still displays some bare batches the appearance has improved considerably since the last inspection in 2005. The 2005 report also noted that the Norway maple behind the plot had a dead branch and should be removed. The dead branch is still in place although it is not a major limb and it is located relatively high up in the canopy. The maintenance staff of the Mount Pleasant Cemetery has kept the surrounding vegetation in good condition. There is, however, no formal agreement between Parks Canada and Mount Pleasant Cemetery clarifying the roles, responsibilities and expectations of the two parties. Nor has the cemetery management been given a copy of the Conservation Maintenance Plan that was prepared in 2000. Recommended Action: Ongoing: Regular top dressing and reseeding of the lawn is required to address promote the growth of grass in areas of high traffic.
[Grave Sites of Canadian Prime Ministers Monitoring Report: The Right Hon. William Lyon Mackenzie King]

Page 9 of 14

GRAVE SITES OF CANADIAN PRIME MINISTERS MONITORING REPORT
High Priority: The relationship between Parks Canada and Mount Pleasant Cemetery should be formalized and the roles, responsibilities, and expectations clarified. 7. Landscape Features Observation: An upright water tap is located between the gravesite and the awareness panel. As noted in the 2005 report the setting further marred by the presence of a hose on the site. The water hose was again present at the site but according to cemetery staff, the hose is attached only when in use and it is taken away when watering is finished. Recommended Action: No immediate action is recommended. The tap is part of the extensive underground water system in the cemetery and moving the tap would require re-routing the water pipes to and from the tap. If the water system for the cemetery were to be redone in this area a more discreet location should be considered.
Garden hose in use adjacent to the King gravesite

3.0 PREVIOUS CONSERVATION INTERVENTIONS 1993 125th Confederation Anniversary plaque erected. 1999 Awareness panel and flagpole installed. 2000 A Conservation Maintenance Plan was prepared for the site. 2005 Evaluation report prepared by Heritage conservation Directorate which laid out a 5 year work plan. None of the actions identified in this report have been undertaken. 4.0 SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS Awareness Panel • Low priority: Touch up the awareness panel and metal stand with matching paint.
[Grave Sites of Canadian Prime Ministers Monitoring Report: The Right Hon. William Lyon Mackenzie King]

Page 10 of 14

GRAVE SITES OF CANADIAN PRIME MINISTERS MONITORING REPORT
Flag Pole • High priority: Contact the manufacturer of the flag pole to discuss options for providing a more durable and less abrasive attachment for the bottom of the flag. • High priority: Contact the manufacturer of the flag pole to discuss options for providing a metal base cap that provides more effective protection for the steel bolts and brackets at the base of the pole.

125th Confederation Anniversary Plaque • Medium priority: Consideration should be give to relocating the 125th Confederation Anniversary Plaque to a location closer to the awareness panel and away from the gravesite itself. If this were to be carried out the touch ups to the paint could be carried out at the same time. Former Prime Minister’s Grave Marker • Ongoing: Monitor condition of grave marker and gently clean stone if soiling becomes more evident. Other Grave Markers • Medium priority: Repair the lettering on the Dougall King gravestone and clean granite to remove biotic matter. Vegetation • Ongoing: Regular top dressing and reseeding of the lawn is required to address promote the growth of grass in areas of high traffic. • High priority: The relationship between Parks Canada and Mount Pleasant Cemetery should be formalized and the roles, responsibilities, and expectations clarified.

Here is a summary of the recommended actions over the next five coming years: Recommendations Awareness Panel 2012 2013 2014 2015 Touch up the awareness panel and black metal stand with 2016

[Grave Sites of Canadian Prime Ministers Monitoring Report: The Right Hon. William Lyon Mackenzie King]

Page 11 of 14

GRAVE SITES OF CANADIAN PRIME MINISTERS MONITORING REPORT
matching paint. Flagpole Contact the manufacture r of the flag pole to discuss options for providing a more durable and less abrasive attachment for the bottom of the flag. Contact the manufacture r of the flag pole to discuss options for providing a metal base cap that provides more effective protection to the steel bolts and brackets at the base of the pole. Considerati on should be give to relocating the 125th Confederati
Page 12 of 14

125th Confederation Anniversary Plaque

[Grave Sites of Canadian Prime Ministers Monitoring Report: The Right Hon. William Lyon Mackenzie King]

GRAVE SITES OF CANADIAN PRIME MINISTERS MONITORING REPORT
on Anniversary Plaque to a location closer to the Awareness Panel and away from the gravesite itself. Touch up black paint on the metals stand. Monitor condition of gravemarker and gently clean stone if soiling becomes more evident. Repair the lettering on the Dougall King gravestone and gently clean the granite to remove biotic matter. Regular top dressing and reseeding of the lawn is required to address promote the growth of grass in areas of high traffic. The relationship between Parks Canada and Mount Pleasant Cemetery
Page 13 of 14

Former Prime Minister’s Grave Marker Other Plaques or Other Grave Markers

Vegetation (trees, lawn, flower bed)

[Grave Sites of Canadian Prime Ministers Monitoring Report: The Right Hon. William Lyon Mackenzie King]

GRAVE SITES OF CANADIAN PRIME MINISTERS MONITORING REPORT
should be formalized and the roles, responsibilit ies, and expectation s clarified.

5.0 APPENDIX Cemetery Contact: Ian Young Property Manager Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Visitation Centre, Crematorium and Mausoleum, 375 Mount Pleasant Road, Toronto, Ontario, M4T 2V8 Tel: 416-485-929 Ext 730 Fax: 416-485-1672 iyoung@mountpleasantgroup.com,

[Grave Sites of Canadian Prime Ministers Monitoring Report: The Right Hon. William Lyon Mackenzie King]

Page 14 of 14