You could hear your own heartbeat, the air was so still.  A sense of trepidacious curiosity overcomes the feeling that you are trespassing in someone’s most private place.

And so our adventure begins in the Saint Andrew’s Anglican Cemetery located just behind Saint Andrew’s Church in Courtenay, BC.  This post is a follow-up article to our photoblog “St. Andrew’s Anglican Church” which showcased a historic and culturally significant church on Vancouver Island.

Nestled deep in a protected Garry Oak grove sits this quite little resting place.  As Mrs. Toad and I wrapped up our shoot of the church itself, we found ourselves drawn to spend a little time in the cemetery enjoying the peace and serenity.  It was a chance to take a moment to remember those who came before us.

Saint Andrew's Anglican Cemetery - Courtenay, BC, Canada

Saint Andrew's Anglican Cemetery - Courtenay, BC, Canada

As mentioned in our post featuring the church itself, the church and cemetery were founded originally in 1877.  This was the first church in the immediate area, resulting in it being labelled the “Mother Church” for this part of our island.

Life was difficult in the mid 1800’s in Canada.  Winters were brutal and the terrain was raw.  It was therefore of little surprise to see so many markers from this period, and some designated the final resting place of people who were very, very young.  Too young.

Saint Andrew's Anglican Cemetery - Courtenay, BC, Canada

Saint Andrew's Anglican Cemetery - Courtenay, BC, Canada

A warm golden light draped the grounds during our visit, bringing a little warmth to a place usually left cold.  The church itself peeks up above the ridge-line,  producing an interesting shape against the horizon.

Saint Andrew's Anglican Cemetery - Courtenay, BC, Canada

Saint Andrew's Anglican Cemetery - Courtenay, BC, Canada

Some of the ornate details are so absolutely wonderful, at times it leaves the visitor forgetting about their immediate surroundings.  There is, after-all, beauty in many things if only you look for it.

Saint Andrew's Anglican Cemetery - Courtenay, BC, Canada

Saint Andrew's Anglican Cemetery - Courtenay, BC, Canada

Our ties to our past are strong.  Colorful blue spring flowers adorn the gentle sloping hillside, creating a sense of beauty and renewal.  Gentle shadows from the huge trees that live here produce really wonderful elements of interest to enjoy.  Light is the opposite of darkness, immediately lifting your spirits as you stand quietly and take in the energies that surround you.

A voice beckons from nearby.  Mrs. Toad finds a special marker that has caught her eye.

“This poor lady was a beloved wife and mother.  She died younger than I am today.  I wonder why?”

I say nothing as I reach to put my arm around my lovely wife, taking in for a moment the joy I feel in my deep love for her.  At least we’ve got today, and with any luck, tomorrow…  life is short, remembering this is of the utmost importance.

Saint Andrew's Anglican Cemetery - Courtenay, BC, Canada

Saint Andrew's Anglican Cemetery - Courtenay, BC, Canada

Some of the grave-sites have elaborate and intricate markers.  Others are worn by the winds of time and are almost illegible.  This doesn’t make our connection with these people any less real, it just means that time is gently blowing over our minds and spirits, slowly eroding the material elements that we can see and touch today.  The memories hold no less meaning today than they did yesterday, they are just a little different.

Saint Andrew's Anglican Cemetery - Courtenay, BC, Canada

Saint Andrew's Anglican Cemetery - Courtenay, BC, Canada

As we turn to leave, we realize that this place is beautiful.  I take Mrs. Toad’s hand and we walk out together.  At times I am left wondering if these experiences we have aren’t meant to help us remember what’s important today.  Never take pause when you are about to tell your beloved how you feel, time is short here and life is fleeting.  I find if you live life to the fullest by following this rule, you will always feel joy and love in your heart and you will appreciate all that surrounds you.

Nothing could be simpler.

Thank you for your kind visit to today’s post.  As always, we encourage everyone to leave us any comments that you may have, as we love to hear from all our visitors.  Until next time, my friends, best wishes.

  1. avatar ehpem says:

    Very nice place – thanks for bringing it to us. Great photos and words to go with them. I enjoyed this one Toad. You certainly to give a strong feeling of the places you document.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thanks so much, my friend, I am sitting here with a mile-wide smile from your wonderful comments! It really means an awful lot to us here, thank you!

  2. Great images and meaningful words

  3. avatar Chris Nitz says:

    Just a wonderful and moving post.

  4. avatar Jim Nix says:

    nicely done Toad, great work sir!

  5. Cemeteries, especially the well kept ones, can be wonderfully peaceful places to take a walk. There always seems to be much to see in addition to the obvious grave stones. Thank you for a great series of shots and, as usual, an interesting narrative.

  6. As always Toad, your work is an inspiration. I especially like the third in this series. It is bed made for eternal sleep and made in the most peaceful spot in the world. We could do a lot worse!!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thank you, kind sir! There is no way I could agree with you any more than I do there, Mike. Truly. Great comments my friend, thanks for your kind visit and support here!

  7. avatar Rick Louie says:

    It’s always interesting to see these older cemeteries. I’ve visited a few here in Colorado and noticed also that some of them have ornamental fencing around the graves and rather unique headstones. It’s amazing to see the similarities. Thanks for sharing, Toad.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thanks so much for your kind support and most wonderful comments, Rick! It really means an awful lot to us my friend.

  8. avatar A.Barlow says:

    Man… That’s cool. BUT! I wanna see you shoot this place at NIGHT! Maybe on a full moon for effect, you know. (totally serious too)

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Ya know something, my friend, I think you’ve got a GREAT idea here! With summer coming and the weather making noises like it’s thinking about maybe improving.. somewhat.. these sorts of things are indeed possible. Great comments, my friend, thank you ever so kindly for your ongoing support and friendship here!!

  9. avatar Edith Levy says:

    A very touching and moving post Toad. There’s a certain serenity that you’ve brought out in your images. Well done.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thank you so very much, Edith, that is awfully kind of you my friend. We really appreciate your visit and wonderful comments here.

  10. Sweet series, nothing like a cemetery with character

  11. avatar LensScaper says:

    I’ve just caught up with this and the previous post about St Andrew’s church. I love the architecture of the building and what a perfect day for the shoot. I find your writing about this place very moving. We live such busy lives that we can so easily forget to acknowledge the worth of our personal relationships and appreciate what is truly important in life.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thanks ever so kindly, Andy, your friendship and wonderful comments here really means so much to us!

  12. avatar Renee Besta says:

    Toad, I just love what you have done with the images from this historic old cemetery. I must confess I love to visit and photograph old cemeteries myself. They make great subject matter for photography, especially HDR. I get the creeps just looking at these images, my friend. What a wonderful job, as usual!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, Renee! We really appreciate your visit and kind comments, it means so much!

  13. Beautiful and respectful series, Toad.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Hi Mark! Thanks SO much for taking the time to pop by, and for leaving us your thoughts, my friend! We really do appreciate it!

  14. avatar Eden says:

    Brilliant processing, Toad (as always 🙂 ).

  15. avatar Adam Allegro says:

    I must have missed this one! Fantastic images and writeup!! I always enjoy a little mind vacation when I see your posts. Wonderful work my friend!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      It’s always an honor when you pop by, Adam, thank you so much! We sure do appreciate all your support, my friend!