Home / Accueil

The Old Graveyard Municipal Heritage Site

Branch, Newfoundland and Labrador, A0B, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2008/11/24

View from Gut Path of The Old Graveyard, Branch, NL, 2008.; Andrea O'Brien, HFNL, 2008
The Old Graveyard, Branch, NL, 2008
View from the rear of The Old Graveyard looking towards Gut Path and the waterfront, Branch, NL, 2008.; Andrea O'Brien, HFNL, 2008
The Old Graveyard, Branch, NL, 2008
View of headstones at The Old Graveyard, Branch, NL, 2008.; Andrea O'Brien, HFNL, 2008
View of The Old Graveyard from Gut Path

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2009/07/07

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Old Graveyard is a Roman Catholic cemetery containing more than twenty headstones, mainly of white marble, and is located near the waterfront in Branch, Newfoundland and Labrador. The grassy cemetery lies on gently sloping, fenced land approximately 18 metres from the community’s waterfront. The municipal heritage designation includes all the fenced area of cemetery land, and the gravemarkers within it, bounded by private property on three sides and otherwise by the Gut Path.

Heritage Value

The Old Graveyard has been designated a municipal heritage site by the Town of Branch because of its spiritual, historic and aesthetic values.

The Old Graveyard has spiritual value due to its association with the Roman Catholic religion in Branch, by far the predominant religion in this community whose population is of predominately Irish descent.

The Old Graveyard has historic value for its association with Branch’s settlers, and with the Nash family in particular. The family of Thomas Nash, an Irish immigrant who had previously been living on Newfoundland’s Southern Shore, is believed to have been the first settlers at Branch, arriving about 1790, and later donating the land that was used for the community’s first cemetery.

The cemetery has historic value as the oldest known cemetery in Branch, and because it is also purportedly the oldest cemetery in the Cape Shore region of the province. While the earliest death dates appearing on extant headstones at the cemetery is 1857, the cemetery was likely in use before that time, and there are undoubtedly many unmarked graves.

The cemetery also has historic value because its headstones contain historic and genealogical type information, and because they may be considered artifacts.

The Old Graveyard has aesthetic value because its predominantly marble gravemarkers in tablet or column forms are of a material and represent styles typical of the period in which they were produced (circa 1860-1910). These headstones, set in the grassy, fenced land cemetery, are a key element in making the Old Graveyard a distinctive feature in Branch’s cultural landscape.

Source: Town of Branch Regular Council Meeting November 24, 2008.

Character-Defining Elements

Those elements which contribute to the site’s spiritual, historic and aesthetic values, including:

-association with the Roman Catholic religion;
-style, placement and materials of gravemarkers;
-grassy groundcover;
-existence of fencing to contain the site;
-and location of site.



Newfoundland and Labrador

Recognition Authority

NL Municipality

Recognition Statute

Municipalities Act

Recognition Type

Municipal Heritage Building, Structure or Land

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1857/01/01 to 1909/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Building Social and Community Life
Religious Institutions

Function - Category and Type



Religion, Ritual and Funeral
Mortuary Site, Cemetery or Enclosure

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador
1 Springdale Street
St. John's, NL
A1C 5V5

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




Related Places



Advanced SearchAdvanced Search
Nearby Places