Demystifying Common Symbols from your Local Toronto Cemetery

Toronto cemetery tombstoneSome cemeteries house tombstones that are decades old, sometimes even closer to centuries. It’s a common trend to see various reoccurring symbols throughout the rows upon rows of different grave-sites. Unknown to many people, these symbols carry a special significance and are far more than just a way to improve the aesthetics of a tombstone. At Mount Pleasant Group, we make your funeral arrangements as stress free as possible. Let our experts walk you through a few common historical symbols and what they mean:


  1. The Alpha and Omega

    Alpha is the first letter in the Greek alphabet, and omega is the last. In Christian scriptures, God is quoted as saying that he is the “Alpha and Omega” signifying that he is the beginning and end of life. The combined symbols have become a popular gravestone carving to symbolise the Christian sentiment of eternal life after death.
  2. Anchors

    The meaning behind the anchor is twofold. First of all, it is a symbol of hope and steadfastness that was first used by the Masons. Early Christians also used it as a disguised symbol for the cross. It’s since become a common symbol for eternal life and is often used to mark the gravestones of sailors—or as a tribute to St. Nicholas, patron saint of seamen.
  3. The Book

    Books can have multiple meanings when they appear on a tombstone. For some, it is a symbol for the book of life (the bible). For others, it can mean learning or signify the life of a scholar or a writer. They’re also sometimes used as representations for the evangelists.
  4. The Broken Column

    The broken column is a symbol for a life cut short. It serves as a memorial for someone who died young. 
  5. Hands

    On gravestones, hands are used as a symbol for the broken relationship with the living. The hand is usually depicted doing one of four things: blessing, clasping, pointing and praying. A hand pointing upward is a common symbol for the hope of heaven, while a hand with a finger pointing down is a representation of God reaching down for the soul. 
  6. Angels

    Angels are typically seen as being messengers between God and man. They may be depicted in a variety of different poses. Some of these poses include open wings, which symbolise the soul’s ascension to heaven, and the weeping angel, which signifies grief and loss. If you walk among the tombstones in Toronto cemeteries, such as the Toronto Necropolis, or Mount Pleasant Cemetery, you’re sure to see many.


At Mount Pleasant Group, we make all your funeral and cemetery arrangements in the Greater Toronto Area as quick and stress free as possible. Contact us today for more information regarding the many services that we offer.

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