Most cemeteries are not tourist destinations, especially tiny cemeteries in small towns. But if you take a trip to Wakefield, I highly recommend you visit the small MacLaren Cemetery
. Buried here is the late Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson
, perhaps the greatest statesman this country has every produced.
Prime Minister Pearson, after whom Toronto's airport is named, defined Canada's role internationally, a role which continues today. In the middle of the Suez Crisis with no apparent way out, Prime Minister Pearson suggested an international peacekeeping force, averting war and allowing the forces in the area at the time to withdraw their troops without losing face. For his ‘invention' of peacekeeping, Prime Minister Pearson was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
, the only Canadian to be awarded this honour. Canada takes its peacekeeping role very seriously; we are the only country in the world to have participated in every United Nations peacekeeping mission as well as numerous non-UN missions.
Located near the Wakefield Mill
, the cemetery began as the family cemetery of the MacLaren's, the original owners of the Mill. The cemetery is small but offers a great sense of history nonetheless as graves date back to the original Wakefield settlement. Situated on the top of a hill, the cemetery offers a beautiful view of the Gatineau Hills. It would be a particularly spectacular view in fall when the leaves change colour or after a rainfall when the hills are surrounded by mist. It is no wonder Scottish immigrants chose this place as their home. Prime Minister Pearson, while serving with the Department of External Affairs, hiked in the surrounding woods with his friends and political counterparts Hume Wrong and Norman Robertson. Robertson and Wrong also chose to make MacLaren Cemetery their final resting spot.
Pearson's grave is almost as plain as one can get; no one would ever guess that this is the grave of a former Prime Minister of Canada. The only way you know that this is the final resting place of the Prime Minister is the Canadian flag and the commemorative plaque erected in Pearson's honour. I consider this a perfect illustration of Pearson himself as well as Canada's character.
To find MacLaren's Cemetery, head to the Wakefield Mill. Drive past the Mill and over the small bridge. You will notice a large red brick home on the right. Instead of following the road left, continue straight onto the small road which rises up the sharp hill. There is a very small street sign at this intersection but it can be easy to miss. This road will take you directly to the cemetery after only a few minutes drive.
To locate the grave of Prime Minister Pearson, head to the Canadian flag at the far end of the parking lot. There you can read about Pearson. Enter the cemetery through the gate on the left. There are markers with arrows located in the grass but these are very small and not easy to see.