FN 1-25 Indian Ossuary

My Trip +

Ceremony for the unveiling of the Indian Ossuary cairn and marble plaques in 1934. Photo: nflibrary.ca.

The Indian Ossuary cairn bore another stone inscription about Stamford Park, here replaced by a bronze plaque around 1965. It has since disappeared.

The Indian Ossuary cairn in 1995, prior to the development of an extensive subdivision in the area. Photo: Chantal Cameron / nflibrary.ca



Just to the north of here, on her trek to warn the British of the impending American invasion, Laura Secord made a stop in St. Davids to see her brother Charles Ingersoll. She intended to ask him to take over her mission to deliver her warning – but he was ill and unable to travel. Laura had to decide what to do – continue on, or stop now. She made the decision to continue on. And she asked her niece Elizabeth to walk with her. And so the two women left St. Davids.

As Laura left St. David's, she passed by one of the largest Neutral Indian Burial Ground in Ontario, less than 500 metres south of here.

Barbara Worthy tells us about it in this audio vignette.

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Additional information

Comment on page from Ontario's Historical Plaques (http://ontarioplaques.com/Plaques/Plaque_Niagara22.html ):

"This cairn was dedicated on October 5, 1934, predating the first blue and gold provincial historical marker by some 22 years. On two of its four faces, historical text was carved in stone. On its south face (with the Native American arrowhead represented as a pinnacle pointing left) was carved:

"200 y'ds n east of this point stood STAMFORD COTTAGE the home of Sir Peregrine Maitland, Lieut. Governor of Upper Canada. Property was purchased 1822. Gov. Maitland retired 1828."

On its north face, the text reads:

"200 y'ds n west of the highest point was situated the largest INDIAN OSSUARY yet discovered in the province. First discovered about 1820. Bones and sand removed 1908."

Decades later, the Archaeological and Historic Sites Board--forerunner of the Ontario Heritage Trust--erected a blue plaque on the cairn, covering the stone text to Stamford Cottage. The above black and white photo appears to have been taken at its unveiling ceremony, but the Trust appears to have no record of it. The photo is undated, but cannot be prior to May 1965, when the provincial flag shown in the photo was adopted. A photo dated 1987 shows this plaque on the cairn, but by 1989, when another photo was taken, it was gone, revealing the original Stamford Cottage text once again.

That carving is severely eroded and difficult to read, while the ossuary text remains legible. To help visitors appreciate it, the City of Niagara Falls erected a double-sided plaque next to the cairn. It modifies the stone texts, and changes the date of the ossuary's discovery. It reads:

"200 yards north east of this point stood "STAMFORD COTTAGE" later known as "STAMFORD PARK" the home of Sir Peregrine Maitland, Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada from 1818 to 1828. The property was purchased in 1822 and consisted of a 'cottage' and gate house. The 22 room 'cottage' was destroyed by fire in 1828."

"200 yards north west of the highest point was situated the largest Indian Ossuary yet discovered in the Province. First discovered in 1828. Bones and sand removed in 1908."

There is evidence the cairn was moved from its original location when the surrounding subdivision was developed, but its exact original location requires further research. This would skew the distance references of 1934.

In any case, it's a worthy stop to visit this monumental relic of historical interpretation. Even contemporary federal cairns did not reach the height of this one. A lingering question: Who built it?"