May. 5th, 2010

felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
Yesterday I visited the saddest place on these islands we call Greater Montreal - the pauper's graveyard in Laval. I went there doing research for something I'm writing.

For those who don't know about it, the pauper's graveyard is an unmarked corner of the Laval Cemetery. It consists of row upon row of graves marked only with a silver disk with a serial number on it. In each grave is someone who died both penniless and completely alone - the homeless, mostly, and suicides and people who ODed.

A body will be held thirty days at the coroner's office, and then buried here. There's no ceremony because these people's religion is unknown. There's no cremation, because that offends some faiths. The identities are kept on record should anyone ever come looking for them.

It's way out in rural corners, with all the farms, a corner of a larger graveyard full of big, fancy tombstones. You can find it between a set of salmon-coloured statues, and the children's graveyard with all its rain-rotted plush animals. There was nothing left on the paupers' graves - no sign they'd been visited by anyone but myself, and the pack of Canada geese that squawked whenever I got close.

(Perhaps they were psychopomps, and I was interfering in their work.)

I went home, feeling that my problems were a lot smaller. I made my way back through the city (Laval) that's not only allergic to pedestrians, but doesn't know what to do with them - first bus stop I encountered could only be reached by climbing a low wall. Nothing transforms "natural" to "desolate" like a multi-tier concrete highway cutting through the trees, with an occasional Tequila bottle sitting in the ditch by the side of the gravel sidewalk.

Yeah, I'm not sure why people move out to Laval, either. I did finally get to see the Saint-Vincent-de-Paul Penitentiary, though - that old fortress I'd researched in books for my website.


felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)

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