The Woodward Mausoleum – Until the daybreak and the shadows flee away

Nathaniel Christopher 2 Comments

I would like to be a more proactive individual.

Over the course of my life there have been many instances when I have decided to do something but never got around to it. I would make a plan in my mind and I had the will to do it but would often get sidetracked by more immediate concerns and eventually let the idea float into oblivion.

I first became conscious of this pattern when I worked at a retirement home kitchen here in Burnaby in 2001. My walk to work took me past the Masonic Cemetery which is crowned by the prominent Woodward Mausoleum. This is the final resting place of Charles Woodward, the founder of the now defunct Woodward’s department store chain as well as members of his family.

The Woodward Mausoleum.
The Woodward Mausoleum.

One day I thought it’d be a great idea to take a photo of it and post it to – an online cemetery database that I contribute to. I had my Kodak Easy Load 35mm camera and a roll of film in my bag. “I could just go up there right now and take the photo,” I thought to myself. “I could drop the film off to be developed during my break and then scan and upload the photos tonight!”

But I didn’t do any of that. I don’t know why. I just carried on with my daily routine and put poor old Mr. Woodward out of my mind. There were no negative consequences of me not taking that photo but I had the ability, desire, tools, time, and resources to carry out the task s so why didn’t I just do it?

From then on that edifice, which I see on a regular basis, became a symbol for all of my plans that died before I even tried to make them happen.

I want to change that. I know I can’t do everything I want to do but I feel there is room in my life to be more proactive in achieving my goals. I don’t know exactly how I’m going to do that but I thought it would be a good first step to go up on that hill, take photos of the mausoleum, and upload them to Findagrave – just like I planned to do over 11 years ago.

I took some photos of the tomb’s stone exterior and then attempted to take some photos of the interior through one of the foggy glass windows. I got a few shots of the inside including the tombs of the Woodward family, the intricate tile floor, the stained glass window, and a message of hope.

Above the altar, located at the back of the tomb, there was a marble tablet that read “until the daybreak and the shadows flee away.” That reminded me think that that perhaps, in some small way, I have ushered in a bright day by visiting that tomb and following through with a goal I set 11 years ago.

The inscription above the altar in the mausoleum reads "until the day break and the shadows flee away."
The inscription above the altar in the mausoleum reads “until the day break and the shadows flee away.”

I also managed to take photos of other graves for Findagrave users who had requested photos from that cemetery.

Interior of the Woodward Mausoleum.
Interior of the Woodward Mausoleum.

I was having difficulty finding some of the graves so I made my way to a house located within the cemetery where I was greeted by the cemetery’s resident secretary-manager Terry A. Staley. He spent a good half hour dutifully finding the plots on his software, printing out detailed colour maps, and then writing his own notes on precisely where to locate the plots.

Stained glass window inside of the Woodward Mausoleum.
Stained glass window inside of the Woodward Mausoleum.

Mr. Staley, a Freemason and former banker, also told me about the cemetery’s history and indulged my curiosity about Freemasonry explaining some of their symbols and philosophies. I got the impression that he, like some of my ancestors, is affiliated with an organization that motivates people to be ever mindful of kindness, duty, and self-discipline.

I enjoyed speaking with Mr. Staley and thank him for helping enrich and fulfill one of my small but personally significant life goals. From now on when I look at that old tomb I’ll think of something more uplifting and empowering.

I am a resident of Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, who has been blogging here for nearly 25 years. I enjoy sharing my thoughts and feelings on my own online platform. From 1998 until 2017, I worked as a journalist, and I have posted most of my articles in the 'News' section of this website.


  1. Oh, Hey Susan R! I see many of your photos and memorials on Findagrave! it’s cool to meet you! 🙂 I just took out eight photo requests at Forest Lawn yesterday. The staff there were extremely helpful and friendly – especially Geoff. They also went the extra mile in helping me locate my sister’s unmarked grave.

  2. I know what you mean about Mr Sakey, he is a wonderful person to deal with.

    As well as the staff at Forest Lawn. I am just waiting to hear back from Ocean View on the 25 requests there.

    It is nice to see that there is someone else in the Lower Mainland that has a love for cemeteries. I am susanr on findagrave.

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