Description of Historic Place
Bayview Cemetery is situated on a hillside above Edgewater Street at the head of the harbour in Mahone Bay, NS. Some grave markers date from the late 1700’s, including several rare Germanic gravestones. Bayview Cemetery is located close to seven other heritage properties on the main route leading into the town from the east. Municipal heritage designation applies to the land at the corner of Main Street and Clearland Road.
Bayview Cemetery is valued for its tangible associations with the early history of Mahone Bay; for its particular association with the “foreign Protestant” settlers and their rare Germanic gravemarkers; and for its continuous use as a community burial ground since the late 1700’s.
The historic value of Bayview Cemetery is evident in its late eighteenth and early nineteenth century gravestones. Several of the earliest stones mark graves of foreign Protestants, mainly German-speaking Europeans, who immigrated as part of the British initiative to colonize the area. Initially based in nearby Lunenburg, they began claiming their farm land grants at Mahone Bay in 1754. Burials took place in Lunenburg until 1774 by which time the settlers had established a burial ground at Mahone Bay. The “burying ground at Mush-a-Mush,” so-called after the nearby river, eventually became Bayview Cemetery.
Bayview Cemetery and its early grave markers are valued as memorials to Mahone Bay’s founding families whose names and descendents are found today throughout Lunenburg County. Thousands of Zwicker descendants can trace their roots to Johann Peter Zwicker I (d. 1789) and his wife Maria Magdalena (d. 1787) whose graves are here along with those of their eldest son and his wife – Johann Peter Zwicker II (d. 1813) and Ana Catherina (d. 1780). A spreading Ernst family tree began with Christian Ernst (d. 1798) and his wife Ann Regina (d. 1801) who are interred here. Also buried here are other settlers whose descendants remain in the area: George Eisenhauer (d. 1805), Johann Philip Heyson (d. 1813), and Alexander Kedy (d. 1818).
The early gravestones at Bayview Cemetery are valued as an expression of the austere life experienced by the settlers and as testament to their faith and fortitude. The primitive quality of the earliest markers and the use of Germanic symbols and language evoke a sense of the settlers’ isolation within the colony.
Bayview Cemetery is also valued for its rare early Germanic gravestones marking the graves of foreign Protestant settlers. Lunenburg County’s oldest surviving German inscription – that of Ana Catherina Zwicker (d. 1780) – is here. Her stone is roughly crafted of soft local slate with touchingly awkward and uneven block letters in German. Other hand-carved stones have Gothic script. Some depict traditional Germanic images – a tulip on the 1805 Eisenhauer marker, a heart on an infant’s stone.
The influence of the foreign Protestant settlers persists today in the continued use of German motifs on gravestones, and also in the widespread presence of German foods and patterns of speech throughout Lunenburg County.
Markers and materials from later eras are valued for their ability to evoke a sense of different historic periods. These include Victorian grave curbing and cast-iron railings with linked heart and stepped cross motifs.
Bayview Cemetery is also valued for being the site of Mahone Bay’s original Anglican Church (built 1833) and Presbyterian Church (built 1861). By 1887, when both church buildings had been relocated, their vacated churchyards offered new burial sites. A noteworthy grave in the former Anglican churchyard is that of the Reverend William Henry Snyder, Rector of St. James' Anglican Parish from 1852 until his death in 1889. His monument, erected by parishioners, consists of formed concrete with marble insets.
By 1872, when the community was well-established, the burial ground was named “Bayview Cemetery.” The Bayview Cemetery Company, whose volunteers managed ongoing operations, was incorporated in 1925. When the Company disbanded in 2007, operations were assumed by the Town of Mahone Bay.
Source: Town of Mahone Bay Heritage File #MBHG003
Character-defining elements of Bayview Cemetery relate to its history, monuments and markers, landscape features, and location, and include:
- all features relating to the foreign Protestant settlers including headstones of local slate and sandstone, Germanic inscriptions and scripts, and Germanic symbols such as heart and tulip;
- all historic materials and elements such as Victorian cast-iron grave fencing with linked heart and stepped cross motif and grave curbing;
-all grave markers;
- fence at Edgewater Street boundary;
- location near the shore with its view of Mahone Bay harbour.