Huronia Regional Centre Memorial Cemetery
Ground Penetrating Radar Survey: Summary of Results

May 6, 2016

Infrastructure Ontario, the government agency that manages the Huronia Regional Centre property on behalf of the province, commissioned Timmins Martelle Heritage Consultants, an archaeological firm and leader in cemetery investigations, to undertake an examination of the Huronia Regional Centre cemetery to address concerns raised by former residents and their families about disruption to graves resulting from a utility pipe on the site.
Timmins Martelle Heritage Consultants subsequently conducted a non-intrusive ground penetrating radar (GPR) study of the Huronia Regional Centre cemetery. The survey, along with available records, was intended to determine whether a utility pipe might have disturbed any of the graves.

The study found that a utility pipe was installed decades ago, likely before 1934. Importantly, the study found that no graves were disturbed by that utility pipe. In fact, the utility pipe was installed along the boundary of the cemetery at that time avoiding pre-existing burials, and the utility pipe was intentionally avoided when new burials were done after 1934. Further, the study recommends against excavation of the buried utility line, since there would be a potential of heavy disturbance of burials on either side.

Summary of results

The GPR study was able to clearly identify burial rows and the outline of individual burials within the cemetery.  With that, Timmins Martelle Heritage Consultants were able to compare the information from the GPR study along with historical data of the site. 

Historical records indicate that a pipe was installed along the edge of what was originally the western boundary of the cemetery decades ago, likely in or before 1934.  In 1934-35, the cemetery was expanded to the west of that boundary.

Furthermore, based on the GPR results and the historical data, it is also apparent that the utility pipe was installed under the path of a laneway that ran along the western boundary of the original cemetery parcel (prior to a 1934-35 expansion of the cemetery to the west side). 

These GPR results for the cemetery are high-quality and provide a clear picture of uninterrupted grave shafts on either side of the former laneway where the utility line is located. The GPR results show comparatively wide-spacing of burial rows to the east and west of that laneway/utility line, where the spacing is twice as large as the spacing between individual burial rows throughout the cemetery.

The GPR results signifies that burials to the east of the utility line within the original cemetery boundary were not impacted, and the spacing clearly suggests the laneway / utility line was intentionally avoided when interring new burials within the west expansion after  1934. 

Based on all the evidence presented by the expert consultants, the province has concluded that no graves were disturbed by the utility pipe.

Ongoing activities

The government remains committed to protecting the memory of all former residents, helping tell their stories and ensuring that the lessons of this time are not lost.

Over the next year, the government will be working with interested parties to continue to respect and honour former residents and their families through the following actions:

  • Erecting an arched entrance way into the cemetery with a plaque or monument there.
  • Creating a natural path through various sections of the cemetery.
  • Establishing a garden area with a bench and solar lights.
  • Placing an additional plaque by the flat marker monument.
  • Installing a number of pillars and benches with row end-markers in the unmarked section of the cemetery, and
  • Replacing the remaining numbered stones with named stones.

Additional resources

Media contacts

Jessica Hume, Minister Brad Duguid’s Office, 416-325-7569
Jeff Giffen, Infrastructure Ontario, 705-564-7205