The previous Heritage Paper recorded some of the strange stories that are associated with the Waterdown Library ghost. To complete this series on the former East Flamborough Township Hall/Waterdown Library, the story of the two tombstones mounted on the Library wall, which many people believe are connected with the actions of the ghost.
The two white marble tombstones commemorate Alexander Brown1 and his wife Merren Grierson2. The actual wording on the monument to Merren Grierson reveals an error that may explain why these stones are not in the Union Cemetery of Waterdown. The spelling of her Christian name is given as Marion rather than Merren.
When these two stones are compared with the large single polished granite stone in Union Cemetery that commemorates the Browns, the spelling of Merren Grierson’s name has been corrected, and further information about the family has been included:
In Memoriam Alexander BrownBorn in parish of Glencairn,Dumfriesshire, Scotland 24 December 1776Emigrated to Canada 1802Married Merren Grierson at Wellington Square, Canada28th July 1806Died on the homestead East Flamboro 9th August 1852.Merren Grierson wife of Alexander BrownBorn in the parish of GlencairnDumfriesshire, Scotland 22 February 1779Emigrated to Canada 1806Died 29th December 1863
On the reverse side of the monument, two children from the marriage are commemorated: John Brown and his wife, Sardinia Claflin; and Mary Clarke Brown and her husband, William King, son of the Reverend William King.
The two library monuments, almost certainly the first stones to be engraved, were “discovered” on Sunday, 21 May 1978 by Mr. and Mrs. William R. Donkin while out for an evening stroll. The couple noticed the headstones on a Nelson Street property that was being prepared for the construction of four new homes. Originally this property had been the home of John Burkholder, caretaker of the Waterdown Union Cemetery. The lettering on the inscriptions was still legible, probably because the stones had been laid face down to form a sidewalk to the outhouse on the Burkholder property. How the stones arrived on the Nelson Street property may never be known, possibly Mr. Burkholder rescued them when they were replaced with the present monument to the Brown family.
On the following day, the Donkins happened to meet Mrs. Eileen Kennedy on Main Street, Waterdown, and told her about their amazing discovery. Fascinated by this news, Mrs. Kennedy went into the Flamborough Review Office and asked John Bosveld, the Editor and Publisher, if his two sons could collect the two old tombstones in their van and take them to the Municipal offices for safekeeping.
The tombstones stayed at the Municipal Offices for several months. During this time, arrangements were made by the Waterdown Centennial Committee and the Waterdown-East Flamborough Heritage Society with the Wentworth Library Board and architect Carl Rieder to have them placed on an interior wall of the former East Flamborough Township Hall that was in process of undergoing renovations to become the Waterdown Library. In 1979, as the interior work was completed, the Brown headstones were mounted on the wall beside the elevator so their preservation was assured.
Editor’s Note (1987)On Saturday, August 22, 1987, the Editor visited the Waterdown Library to check the wording on the Brown tombstones in preparation for this article. On telling Mrs. Finnamore, the Librarian on duty, the reason for the visit–the elevator descended, the doors opened and closed and, as usual, there was no one inside.Was the Waterdown Library Ghost checking that the Editor was indeed copying the tombstones?
Originally published in Heritage Happenings, September 1987.
© The Waterdown-East Flamborough Heritage Society 1987, 2021.
Editor’s Note (2021)The Waterdown branch of the Hamilton Public Library officially closed November of 2015 in preparation for the opening of the new community complex opened in Waterdown. The 15,000 square foot facility includes the Waterdown branch of the Hamilton Public Library, a Senior Centre, the City’s Municipal Service Centre, Flamborough Archives, and Flamborough Information & Community Services, on the former site of the Municipal Office.When plans were being drawn up for the new Waterdown Library on Dundas Street, there was never any hesitation—the Brown tombstones had to move with the Library. As the Flamborough Archives was being included as a partner in the building, it was felt that the best place for them to be housed was within the Archives. The community of Waterdown has a connection to the tombstones and it was felt that the tombstones had to be preserved. Thanks to the determination of Councillor Judi Partridge, Hamilton Public Library Director Karen Anderson, and Facilities Supervisor Mike Sands, money and experts were found to move, restore and remount the tombstones. They look better than ever.