South Etobicoke area couple shocked to find what appeared to be gravestone in their backyard

·4 min read
The stone memorializes Pte. Fabian Robichaud, a World War I veteran who died in 1967 at the age of 74. The family had never noticed it, as it was partially covered by vegetation, bushes and snow.  (Rob Krbavac - image credit)
The stone memorializes Pte. Fabian Robichaud, a World War I veteran who died in 1967 at the age of 74. The family had never noticed it, as it was partially covered by vegetation, bushes and snow. (Rob Krbavac - image credit)

Sanam Mughal and her husband bought their house in the south Etobicoke area last October, but said they were "horrified" by what they found in their backyard on Friday.

While playing tag with her son, Mughal said she went to check the wiring of a light she'd never noticed before, having moved into the house just five months prior.

That's when she says she looked down and found what she thought to be a gravestone directly under her bedroom window.

"[It] completely freaked me out at the time," Mughal said.

The family said they'd never spotted the stone, which memorializes Pte. Fabian Robichaud who died in 1967, as it had been partially covered by vegetation, bushes and snow.

Mughal posted a photo of the memorial plaque in her community Facebook group, hoping she would receive consolation that this was a normal occurrence in the area.

Pictured is the original photo Mughal posted to her community Facebook group after finding what she thought to be a grave marker.
Pictured is the original photo Mughal posted to her community Facebook group after finding what she thought to be a grave marker. (Sanam Mughal/Facebook)

"Everybody was like, 'No, this is not at all normal,'" she recalled. The post received over 100 comments, most of them positive.

Unsure of what to do, Mughal called Toronto police in case there was an actual grave with a body buried underneath the marker.

An officer checked out the scene and said it didn't look like there was any kind of burial there. He said that it was most likely a memorial, and told the homeowners to research the plaque themselves.

Sure enough, research proved that the home located south of Long Branch is not in fact a burial site, but rather home to a memorial for Robichaud, a World War I veteran.

WWl Private Robichaud fought in England, France

According to Canadian public military records, Robichaud was enlisted as a private in the Canadian Expeditionary Forces (CEF) during WWI. He was in the 116th Battalion, Ontario County — an infantry battalion of the CEF that provided reinforcements for the Canadian Corps in Britain in 1916.

The battalion also fought in the 9th Infantry Brigade in France in 1917, until the end of the Great War.

Robichaud's military records show he embarked for both locations.

Robichaud's military records show he was born in Montreal in January 1893. He is listed as both 'Fabien' and 'Fabian'.
Robichaud's military records show he was born in Montreal in January 1893. He is listed as both 'Fabien' and 'Fabian'.(Library and Archives Canada)

According to his records, Robichaud was born in Montreal, Que. in January 1893 and died at the age of 74.

He was listed as both 'Fabien' and 'Fabian', and his address at the time of recruitment is written as 'Parry Harbor, Ontario'. Records show he was discharged in 1919.

"I'm very excited that, you know, I found this in my backyard and I feel like my patio is a historical patio now," Mughal said.

After further investigation, she found Robichaud's final resting place. The soldier is buried at Toronto's Mount Pleasant Cemetery, north of Moore Park, she said.

Family intends to keep plaque, pay respect to it

Mughal said she plans on keeping the plaque out of respect, and even plans to place it in her front yard with historical information next to it so her intrigued neighbours can pay their respects.

"It just shows how much he was loved in his family, so there's a lot of [positivity] and an amazing story behind it," she said.

The house where the plaque was found was built in 1937, according to Mughal, and she said she wants to find out whether Robichaud or his family members lived there.

Property records indicate the house was occupied by a family with the surname Moore in 1967.

Mughal is also trying to contact the previous owner of the house to see if they have any information about the family.

Sanam Mughal and her husband say they plan to keep the plaque out of respect, and are even placing it in their front yard with historical information next to it so intrigued neighbours can pay their respects.
Sanam Mughal and her husband say they plan to keep the plaque out of respect, and are even placing it in their front yard with historical information next to it so intrigued neighbours can pay their respects. (Rob Krbavac/CBC)

CBC Toronto did some digging and discovered that Robichaud's wife passed away in the 1970s, and all their children have since died as well. The last child died in 2006.

It is unclear whether there are any grandchildren.

While the family tries to fill in the blanks, Mughal said she's "really excited" about the historical discovery.

She also appreciates the fact that the memorial was placed right next to the house, which she said shows that whoever occupied it wanted to be close to Robichaud.

"The plaque shows a love story," she said. "After all, whoever he is, he's a soldier. He's going to keep us protected."