By: Rose Divecha
The tour started with much levity for such a grey, dreary walk through Hamilton Cemetery.
“Hey Batman, I’m Robin!” were some of the first words spoken by our tour guide Robin McKee, founder and organizer of ‘Stories in the Stones’ walking tours. He was speaking to a small boy who had shown up with his dad and sister wearing a Batman hoodie.
I wondered how many times he was actually able to use that line in his eighteen years of running these free tours. I would wonder many things in the next two hours as I listened to Robin’s recounting of the many historical firsts that lay beneath our feet as we walked across the grounds of the Hamilton Cemetery which was founded when Burlington Heights Cemetery, the Christ Church Grounds and the Church of Ascension Grounds amalgamated.
Standing before a headstone, Robin had us look at the dates signifying one’s birth and death, and commented, “The first date none of us remember and the second, we don’t want to know. But the dash in the middle, represents the life lived in between. Our legacy and what we’ll be remembered for.”
I looked at the dash between George Hamilton’s birthday and day of passing and thought, “What a tiny little line for an important man with such historical significance to our city.”
Our tour guide was not only knowledgeable but also passionate about sharing the stories that lay in that dashed line between the dates as he took us by the resting spots of many notable Hamiltonians; industry titans and entrepreneurs who shaped this city. Past the impressive monuments of Millionaires’ Row where Tuckett, Watkins and Sanford are entombed, we listened intently at the contributions they made during their lifetimes. With each story Robin told, I could imagine our city during those formative years and onward through the ups and downs of economic and social challenges, all contributing in forming the Hamilton of today. And with our North End currently experiencing a sort of renaissance, you have to wonder, what will we be remembered for during these times? Get out there and make your dash count and if you need inspiration, join one of Robin McKee’s free walking tours, ‘Stories in the Stones’, running every Saturday at 11:00 am from May – November. There’s a lot packed into that tiny little line and a lot packed into one of his tours…and did I mention, they’re free?