Canada’s first pet cemetery was started by Victor Blochin and Anne Wilson in 1933. Known as Happy Woodlawn, it became a public burial grounds for cats, dogs, rabbits, at least one horse, and a monkey named Peter. The couple sold caskets for $50, and mourning families were often invited in for tea after burials.
Blochin was a Major in the Russian Red Army. In World War I, he was captured and held as a prisoner of war in Germany. He became friends with another captive, Angus Campbell, the Lord of Dunstaffnage Castle in Scotland. After the war ended, Blochin moved with Campbell to Scotland to work as a gardener at the castle. Campbell was a breeder and gifted him a West Highland White Terrier who Blochin called Snejka (Snowflake). In the 1920s Blochin left Scotland for Canada, with one of Snejka’s sons and a female Westie.
He bought a property and designed a Scottish style stone home and began to raise terriers of his own. In 1929 he married Anne Elizabeth Wilson, a successful journalist and the founding editor of Chatelaine Magazine. Together they ran Bencruachan Kennels on the property. They produced many award-winning dogs and became internationally known, inspiring the Canadian West Highland White Terrier Club’s Victor Blochin Memorial Trophy (still awarded today). The first burial on the grounds was Snejka in 1933.
The couple made and delivered dog food and Blochin taught chess lessons to help pay for maintenance. He passed away in 1978, and the property was then sold and renamed Kennel Inn. It’s been abandoned since 2011, but the town is fighting for heritage status for the cemetery.
Know Before You Go
The cemetery is area in a wooded on private property and is not open to the public.