Sites of Grave Meaning: The Heritage of Human Remains on the Rideau Canal

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Gray, Casey James




The Rideau Canal in south-eastern Ontario falls under three major heritage designations. However, the cemeteries that house the bodies of the labourers who built the Canal are left out of official heritage discourses of the Canal for several reasons including: a lack of historical and archaeological research on the Canal labourers after their deaths; specific cultural and geographical conditions under which labourers were interred, which have led to misconceptions of "unmarked" and "forgotten" cemeteries and; the inability of current policy and legislation used to administer the Canal to recognize human remains as contributing to heritage value. This thesis demonstrates how the bodies of Canal labourers currently contribute to the heritage value of the Canal and their own local communities both in terms of tangible and intangible cultural heritage, and advocates for a shift towards a new heritage discourse of the Canal which recognizes this contribution.


Canadian Studies
Cultural Anthropology




Carleton University

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Thesis Degree Discipline: 

Canadian Studies

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Theses and Dissertations

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