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Elgin Mills Cemetery And Visitation Centre

1591 Elgin Mills Rd E
Richmond Hill, ON  L4S 1M9

(289) 809-1662

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Jack Zhong 1591 Elgin Mills Road East November 03, 2010
Preplanning Cemetery and Funeral Service

As a preplanner,I am pround to introduce Elgin Mills Cemetery and funeral home to my friends.Here is a brief History of Elgin Mills Cemetery.

Contact me at 416 984 0756 and jzhong@mountpleasantgroup.com,If you want to know more about prelanning in Elgin Mills Cemetery.

A Brief History of Elgin Mills Cemetery


On January 30, 1826 the York General Burying Ground was established through an act of the parliament of Upper Canada. This first non-sectarian burying ground in the Toronto area was better known as The Strangers’ Burying Ground or Potter’s Field, and was located on the north-west corner of Yonge and Bloor Streets. Today, the York General Burying Ground is known as Mount Pleasant Group of Cemeteries (MPGC), and owns and operates ten cemeteries in the Greater Toronto Area.

By 1850, the area surrounding Potter’s Field had become quite built up, and the residents of Yorkville decided they didn’t want a cemetery in their midst, so they lobbied the government to have it closed. They won their petition and the cemetery was ordered closed, the bodies to be removed and re-interred elsewhere. A new cemetery was needed. At about this same time, a group of Presbyterian businessmen opened a small non-sectarian burying ground, the Necropolis, in what is today’s Cabbagetown. MPGC purchased this cemetery in 1855, and many of the remains from Potter’s Field were reinterred in this cemetery. Others were re-located to Mount Pleasant Cemetery which MPGC established in 1876.


The land on which the present Elgin Mills Cemetery is located was originally owned by the Heise family, pioneer settlers who immigrated to Markham Township from Lebanon County, Pennsylvania in 1804. The first member of the family to own property was John Heise who purchased the west half of Lot 25, Concession III, Township of Markham from the Clergy Reserve Board.

Following John’s death, his son Peter worked the farm until selling it to Joseph Gee, an English immigrant, in 1877. The land remained in the Gee family and continued to be worked as a dairy and cash crop farm. Eventually the north half of the 100-acre property was deeded by Joseph Gee to his eldest son Robert. In 1978, Robert’s son, Fraser sold the property to Mount Pleasant Group of Cemeteries. As well as the Gee property, Mount Pleasant Group of Cemeteries acquired additional parcels of land so that today, Elgin Mills Cemetery covers 180 acres.

The old Heise farmhouse, which was erected c. 1851, has been retained and is used as a residence. The two Heise barns were dismantled by members of the Mennonite community with one barn re-erected just outside the city of Kitchener and the other now in re-use near Elmira.

Interestingly, Elgin Mills Road, on which the cemetery fronts was laid out as the Elgin Mills and Markham Plank Road, a wooden thoroughfare that connected Yonge Street with communities like Victoria Square and Cashell to the east. To provide for the upkeep of the road, a tollgate was erected at the Yonge Street corner and fees to traverse the thoroughfare were charged according to the type of vehicle and number of horses or oxen pulling it. The tollgate lasted until the late 1860s when the planks were removed and the dirt road graded.

Flowing through the property is a small unnamed creek that forms part of the headwaters of the Rouge River, so-called by the early French explorers because run-off from the surrounding land gave the watercourse a red (rouge in French) colour.

The origin of the name Elgin Mills is lost in time, but it’s possible that this pioneer Yonge Street Community, which straddled both sides of the important thoroughfare and had several saw and grist mills on the nearby Don River, took its name from the Governor of the Province of Canada from 1846 to 1854, Lord Elgin.

After extensive grading, landscaping and planting had taken place, the first six acres of the new Elgin Mills Cemetery was officially opened by the then mayor of the Town of Richmond Hill, H. David Schiller on November 17, 1979. A handsome Veterans’ Memorial has been erected in Section 9 and was dedicated on November 17, 1981. Each year since, on or about November 11, a special Service of Remembrance, under direction of the Royal Canadian Legion, Richmond Hill Branch 375, is held at the memorial.

In 2000 a Visitation, Chapel and Reception Centre (VCRC) with its stunning chapel was erected on the corner of Elgin Mills Cemetery where Leslie Street and Elgin Mills Road meet. This meant that for the first time, grieving families in Richmond Hill and the surrounding area could make all arrangements associated with a death in one place. The VCRC allows families to have visitation, the funeral service (or a memorial service), the burial and the reception all in one location.


More than a living memorial to past generations, Elgin Mills Cemetery is one of the custodians of our country’s history. This vast city of the dead mimics that of the living in that it reflects the rich mosaic of cultures that have joined together to form the Greater Toronto Area. While still a young cemetery, its value as a storehouse for the community’s history grows with each passing year.

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