The construction of the new arena in London, Ontario a few years ago was wrought with controversy from beginning to end. The only thing standing in the way of the new, state-of-the-art multipurpose facility was a very historic block of downtown London. The Talbot Inn had stood on the same site for 150 years and was designated a historic landmark. The project got bogged down while legal battles were fought to try to save the old Inn.
Eventually, the developers won the war and the Talbot Inn was demolished. After construction crews carried out the demolition, the city was intrigued and horrified when the excavation revealed the skeletal remains of an infant buried in the rubble. Upon examination, it was determined that the infant had been buried in the 1830’s or 40’s.
I was fortunate enough to live in an apartment building right next to Oakland Cemetery where they buried the infant. During my cemetery walks (yes, I know it’s morbid – but it’s also very peaceful!) I would often visit the grave. It was heartening to know that I wasn’t the only person who visited Baby Talbot’s grave. The gravesite was constantly covered with flowers, toys, candles, etc.
The markings on the gravestone always move me. Since I can’t figure out how to enlarge pictures (!) here is the transcription:
“Here lies a young child who reached across time to touch the hearts of Londoners. Born sometime in the 1830s, this young Londoner likely lived just east of the forks of the Thames River, in a cabin at King and Talbot Streets. Succumbing to one of life’s perils, this infant was laid to rest close to home, in a small wooden coffin. Time moved on and multiple layers of city life rose above the tiny grave. In the spring of 2001, the child was discovered while workers were adding another layer of history to the Talbot Block. Now resting for eternity in this cemetery, this infant embodies the pioneer spirit that helped to create our fine city.”
I especially find the last line heartwarming – to me, it’s a call to current and future generations to reflect on the generations who have come, gone and left their mark on our world.