Sombody's Darlings

The monument pictured here can be found in Burnsland Cemetery in Calgary, Alberta Canada. The cemetery itself was opened in the 1920s and is indicative of landscape design of that area. Burnsland also contains a larger percentage of home-made markers than can be found in other cemeteries in the city (possibly because it was the cemetery of the depression era).

The only inscription found on the stylized horse (some refer to it as "My Little Pony") is the phrase "Somebody's Darlings" There is no other inscription: no names, dates or epitaphs. The blank area which would normally contain such notation is completely uncarved and contains no evidence of any previous attachment of a metal plaque. I have found two references to the phrase "Somebody's Darlings", one a literary reference to an American Civil War poem of the same name, the other to a 1920's graphic illustration of a little girl pushing a doll carriage filled with stuffed toys (also tiled "Sombody's Darlings").

Adding further to the enigma is the fact that the monument appears to be located on the dividing line between two family plots. Even though the inscription would seem to indicate the grave of children, only adults are interred in the four adjancent plots. To the North of the monument lies Alexander and Lillie Crab who farmed near the town of Castor, Alberta before retiring to the provincial capital of Edmonton. The tree seen in the photo is a Crabapple tree. To the South lies the graves of the Olive Family and it is the life of William Olive (or W.H.T. as he liked to be known) that may provide some clue as to who the monument commemorates. W.H.T. Olive was (among other things) an architect and builder who worked for the famous English architect Frances Mawson Rattenbury. Rattenbury employed Olive during the design and construction of the parliament buildings in Victoria B.C. Olive was in charge of stairways and other stone detailing.

More fascinating yet is the way that strangers appear to have used the monument to their own ends. In the 1950s, someone scratched the name of a loved one along with dates into the blank spot on the monument. More recently, another notation was crudely scratched into the stone commemorating a Don Paris(?) Champlaine who, apparently, died as a result of HIV. This is the only case I have seen of vandalism becoming an integral part of the history of the object.




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