Castle Kilbride, Rushes Cemetery featured in digital Doors Open Waterloo Region


  • Feature   Wed, Sep 22nd, 2021   Veronica Reiner
This Celtic cross memorializes James Livingston, (who founded Castle Kilbride), along with his family, including his wife Louise Sophia Liersch, and their children, Rebecca, Agnes, Barbara, Caroline, James and Peter. (Photo credit: Veronica Reiner)


This Celtic cross memorializes James Livingston, (who founded Castle Kilbride), along with his family, including his wife Louise Sophia Liersch, and their children, Rebecca, Agnes, Barbara, Caroline, James and Peter. (Photo credit: Veronica Reiner)


Wilmot and Wellesley township graveyards are featured in the first episode. “Waterloo Region Graveyard Driving Tour,” of this year’s digital Doors Open Waterloo Region.
The video showcases Fairmount Cemetery on 1062 Brewery Street in Baden, as well as the Bean Puzzle Tombstone located in Rushes Cemetery on 1915 Hutchison Road in Wellesley.
Narrator Gayle O’Brien described Castle Kilbride as Wilmot township’s “beloved jewel” and said the man who built the grand Victorian home rests just two kilometres north into the countryside in the Fairmount Cemetery.
“James Livington’s family plot is easy to spot on the quaint grounds, with a hulking Celtic cross thrusting into the sky, an homage to his Scottish heritatge and larger-than-life success as a magnate in flax and linseed,” said O’Brien.
Castle Kilbride was built in 1877, and its 10,000 square foot frame was adorned with the finest art, textiles and furniture from the family’s worldwide travels.
Livingston died in 1920, and another two generations inherited the castle until the structure and its contents were sold at an auction in 1988.
“The developer who purchased the home had a grand vision to restore it, but the work came to a standstill and the castle began to deteriorate,” said O’Brien.
Wilmot Township bought the property in 1993, and proceeded with restoration efforts. It was later designated a national historic site. Many original artifacts sold at auction have been returned to the castle, either through donation or the work of local antique dealer, Jim Miller.
One of these artifacts included the founder’s original bed. “If you fancy a supernatural encounter with Livingston, you’re more likely to find it in his bedroom at the castle than at Fairmount Cemetery,” said O’Brien.
The bed was donated by an auction patron, and returned the bed because of “spirits and desperation. The buyers were reportedly eager of its removal after just a handful of sleepless nights in which the king of the castle lingered around their bedside.”
Rushes Cemetery is described by O’Brien as a typical pioneer cemetery with an atypical attraction. Established in 1852, historians, linguists and code crackers have sought out the rural graveyard since the addition of “The Bean Puzzle.”
Worn by erosion from curious visitors rubbing the code, the Wellesley Township Heritage and Historical Society replaced the stone in 1982.
Named for the man who erected it, Samuel Bean, was born in Wilmot in 1838. He had brief careers as a teacher and doctor. The epitaph is a 225 character alphanumeric code marking the graves of his two wives, Henrietta Fury, and Wellesley native Susanna Clegg.
“Opinions of Bean and his puzzle vary. He’s lauded by some as a deep thinker with bad luck and good intentions,” said O’Brien. “Others see the puzzle tombstone as a display of narcissism surrounding suspicious deaths at the hands of a shyster.”
The code was reportedly cracked in 1942 by the cemetery groundskeeper, but he refused to share the message. The first confirmed solve was in the 1970s by a 94-year-old who lived nearby. She shared what she found.
The code reads, “Henrietta 1st wife of S Bean M.D. who died 27th Sep 1865 aged 23 years 2 months & 17 days & Susanna his 2nd wife who died 27th April 1867 aged 26 years 10 months and 15 days, 2 wives 1 man never had, they were gifts from God but are now in heaven. May God help me S.B. to meet them there.
The video premiered on September 4, is available on YouTube, and features Trinity Anglican Cemetery on 72 Blenheim Road in Cambridge and First Mennonite Church and Cemetery on 800 King Street East in Kitchener.
Doors Open has been a tradition in the region since 2003. Every third Saturday in September, Waterloo Region opens its doors to curious visitors. Attendees have the opportunity to explore interesting buildings and heritage sites, many of which are not regularly open to the public.