Ann Preston

Plot G, Section 9, Lot 5
Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto


Little is known of Ann’s early years other than she was born in Ireland in 1810 and became a servant in the home of Dr. and Mrs. J. Reid of Armagh. When the doctor and his family of ten immigrated to Upper Canada in the 1830s, Ann came with them. Dr. Reid purchased a house near the corner of Yonge and Elgin Streets in Thornhill, a small community just north of Toronto and when he and his wife died, Ann became the family housekeeper.
   Even as a young girl, Ann Preston had shown a deep interest in Methodism and even though she never learned to read, she could read the Holy Bible. In church, she would frequently cry out “praise the Lord” or “Hallelujah” and when confronted on the street or in the local general store would quote random passages from the Bible. Ann soon became the brunt of cruel jokes. One day, someone wrote in chalk on the Reid’s front door “Holy Ann lives here. Go in and have a word.”
   Though the words were used in derision, the epithet name “Holy Ann” stuck. Throughout her long life, “Holy Ann” is reputed to have performed numerous “miracles” and when she died on June 21, 1906 at the age of 96, ministers representing six different denominations paid tribute to Ann and her positive influence on others. In 1907 a book titled The Holy Saint was published. In the intervening years the book has gone through 28 editions and has been translated into five languages.

Mike Filey
Mount Pleasant Cemetery: An Illustrated Guide
Second Edition Revised and Expanded