Balsam Lake Rededication Ceremony


Monument to 11 who died in Balsam Lake canoe disaster restored | CBC News

Almost 100 years ago, placid Balsam Lake, in the heart of the Kawarthas, was the scene of one of the worst pleasure craft disasters in provincial history: 11 boys and young men drowned when their oversized canoe capsized, in the dark waters, far from shore.

Most of the victims were Toronto boys. Their funerals and subsequent burial beneath a massive, roughly four-metre-high cross at St. James Cemetery, near Bloor and Parliament streets, made headlines around the world, in July of 1926.

As a poignant addition, a small stone perimeter around the graves was etched with the names of all 11 victims.

But as the decades passed, so did the city’s memories of the tragedy.

But now, thanks to Toronto’s St. James’ Cemetery and Balsam Lake resident Doug Paterson, the site has been refurbished, landscaping the graves and replacing the stone cross that unfortunately vandals had damaged and toppled many years ago.

The restoration of the monument and next month’s graveside re-dedication ceremony were arranged by St. James Cathedral at a cost of about $13 thousand, church staff say, after lobbying by Paterson.

The rebuilt cross “is an exact replica, to the millimetre,” cemetery general manager George Vrozos says. “It was our honour and our privilege to make sure this was done properly and respectfully, to memorialise the lost souls here.”

It’ll all be officially unveiled at a special rededication ceremony, to be held on June 20, 2024.