Toronto family shocked to discover gravestone in backyard of home they had just purchased
TORONTO -- A Toronto family was surprised to find a gravestone in the backyard of a home they purchased only months before.
But Sanam Mughal and Usman Farooqui have gone from shock to pride after they did some digging and realized it could memorialize a Canadian hero.
“I completely freaked out at first,” said Mughal, who said she was playing tag with her husband and son when they stumbled across the headstone. “Imagine seeing that right in the backyard next to your bedroom.”
She called her husband, who had the same reaction.
“I went there, I looked down to see the gravestone — oh my god,” Farooqui said.
But the reaction of their son Azlan was much more relaxed.
“I thought it was kind of cool,” Azlan said.
With the support of neighbours and friends, they decided to look into it a bit more.
The name on the headstone is Fabian Robichaud, who died in July of 1967. His rank: a private in the 116th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces, the headstone says.
That’s likely the same as a “Fabien Robichaud” in the documents posted by the Library and Archives Canada, who served in England and France in the First World War.
Robichaud wasn’t buried in that backyard. The Catholic Cemeteries & Funeral Services in the Archdiocese of Toronto told CTV News Toronto that he was buried in Mount Peace Cemetery in Mississauga.
When CTV News Toronto visited the site, it was clear why the gravestone had been replaced: the new headstone has two names on it. The new one was laid in 1974, when his wife Albina joined him.
It’s not the only piece of history to be found in a Toronto backyard recently. Last year an unexploded military shell was discovered in a North York neighbourhood.
It’s the kind of history that Torontonians can forget is literally in their backyard, says Rowena Brook of Haunted Walks.
“It’s something that doesn’t get thought of much in Toronto — we’re seen as a modern city with skyscrapers and we overlook the daily hustle that there is all this history in Toronto,” she said.
In the end, finding the headstone was a learning experience for the family.
“It’s history, it’s amazing, the history of more than 100 years old of a hero that served this country,” Mughal said.
“It was such a great story. He was part of a winning army that played a part in supporting democracy and freedoms throughout the Western world,” Farooqui said.