Description of Historic Place
This is the family plot of the Stewarts' of Strathgartney. It consists of a collection of several headstones all enclosed by a fence. They are situated in a wooded corner lot on the former Strathgartney estate on a high elevation overlooking the Bonshaw hills. The registration includes the entire cemetery.
The site is valued for its historical associations with the history of the land tenure system in Prince Edward Island and the family of Robert Bruce Stewart.
Robert Bruce Stewart (1813-1887) immigrated to Prince Edward Island from London, England in 1846 with his wife, Helen Birnie (1815-1871) and their five children.
The family eventually inherited over 67,000 acres of land variously located in Lots 7, 10, 12, 27, 30, 46, and 47 from Robert's father, David Stewart, who was a land agent and land owner. This made Robert Bruce Stewart one of the few proprietors who actually lived on the Island. It also made him one of the largest individual land owners.
This position was challenged in 1875, when the province enacted the Land Purchase Act which aimed to force large landowners to sell their property to the government, which would then sell it to the individual tenant farmers. Hitherto, they had been paying rents to the landowner or proprietor in a feudal style arrangement which had begun the 18th century.
Stewart would become a leading voice for the rights of the landholding proprietors and appealed to Britain to have the new law overturned. He argued the move was unconstitutional and that he had always been a benevolent proprietor. In the end, he failed and Islanders did have the right to purchase their own property outright.
The Stewarts' established a large farm or estate in the hills of Bonshaw at Strathgartney which was named after a place in Perthshire, Scotland. This was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1996. In 1871, Helen Birnie Stewart passed away and Robert Bruce established a family plot on the property. It is located about 480 metres from the homestead in a wooded area.
His diary records that on August 31, 1872, the Anglican Bishop visited Strathgartney and consecrated the cemetery. Since 1958 it has been maintained by St. John's Anglican Church in Crapaud.
The cemetery measures twelve by nine metres and is surrounded by a staked fence. The last interment was that of Ann Warburton Stewart, the wife of Robert Bruce Stewart, Jr. in 1931.
Source: Culture and Heritage Division, PEI Department of Communities, Cultural Affairs and Labour, Charlottetown, PE C1A 7N8
File #: 4310-20/P8
The heritage value of the cemetery is shown in the following character-defining elements:
- the location of the cemetery in a wooded section of the Strathgartney property
- the various styles and sizes of granite and marble headstones
- the single strand of fencing around the cemetery