Alfred Heim
Published On: Fri, Jul 4th, 2014

St Andrews Cemetery Wall Damaged By Vehicle – Old News in More than One Way by Kathy Coffey

Rubble resized

View of the damage looking north from the south west corner of highway 18 and Highway 138

SSN – A vehicle struck the stone wall at the St. Andrew’s Church cemetery on Highway 138 and County Road 18 causing $6,000 damage on May 22, 2014. The wall was hit the second time in May within a few days. Repairs to the wall have not started as of July 2014.

vehicle debris questionable

Vehicle debris noted on June 16, 2014 (25 days after the initial crash)- possibly related to the crash.

“Believed to be one of the oldest cemeteries in Ontario, it was closed to burials in 1915. The stone monument, the surrounding wall and the gate were built by the Provincial Government in 1938. Buried in the cemetery are Captain “Spanish” John MacDonell, soldier of fortune in Spain and aide to the Stuart court in France: Simon Fraser the famous explorer and John Sandfield Macdonald the first Premier of Ontario.” from Raisin River Heritage Centre, St Andrews West bulletin.

1936 resized

Newspaper clipping from the Toronto Daily Star 1930’s noting the determination of Premier Hepburn to preserve the historical site.

captain John McDonell resized

Captain John McDonell

Simon Frazer

Simon Fraser


John Sanfield McDonell

John Sanfield McDonell


In 2007 the repairs to the stone wall was completed after a three year campaign to raise $150,000 in grants and donations. Since then the wall has been hit at the same corner 5 times. The church is responsible for the cemetery and each time they have had to pay the $1000 deductible in order to repair the wall.

The main issue at this corner is that the wall is continually being destroyed.

Some of the reasonable assumptions of the collision(s) are:

  • It is doubtful that a personal vehicle would be driveable after collision concluding that the wall is being hit by a large enough vehicle that is able to leave the scene.
  • The damage to a larger vehicle would not go unnoticed concluding that someone is aware that the vehicle they were driving or owned was in a collision.
  • The collision is happening either from a large vehicle heading north on 138 and turning left onto CR 18 or heading south on 138 and turning right onto CR18.

Goal is to protect the historic wall from being destroyed potential solutions are:

  1. Identify the reason the corner is hit. Would installing a traffic camera on the corner help? It might identify the vehicle and assign the insurance deductible to the right person/company. A camera might capture the driver’s perspective on how a collision with the wall could be avoided.
  2. Build a protective guard around the corner to protect the wall? This option has been ruled out by the Ministry of Transportation because this would interfere with wheelchair accessibility on the walkway.
  3. Prohibit large trucks from turning onto CR 18?


There are enough brilliant engineering minds in the SD&G that could find an acceptable engineering solution to prevent this type of damage from occurring. The solution can be found with collaboration with the church, Ministry of Transportation, Township and the historical society.

full intersection resized

View of the full intersection for the benefit of the engineering challenge.