Description of Historic Place
This cemetery is in an isolated location on private property among a grove of trees on a cliff near the shore overlooking Boughton Bay. There are a few remaining sandstone markers. In recent years, a white cross has been added to the site and a monument with the history of the cemetery engraved on one side, while the pioneer families of the area are listed on the opposite side. From the site, Launching Harbour is visible to the north, while Boughton Island can be seen to the south.
The cemetery is valued for its historical association with the early Roman Catholic pioneers of Launching and for its importance as a cultural resource in the area.
These early Scottish Highlanders left their homeland of South Uist around 1790. They left Scotland due to the religious persecution they endured from their chief, MacDonald, Laird of Boisdale. In 1770, he had begun to demand that the people on his lands follow his lead and abandon their old faith in favour of Protestantism. Rather than submit to his demands, many chose to leave in search of a more tolerant place in which to live.
They came to Lot 36 in St. John's Island and the Scotch Fort area which had been purchased by Captain John MacDonald in 1771 as a homeland for his fellow Catholic countrymen. However, they only remained in the area until 1796, when they became unhappy with the treatment they received from Captain MacDonald. They decided to venture toward the eastern end of the Island where they finally decided to stay in what is today the Launching area.
Near the site of the present cemetery, they established a crude log church around 1802. It remained their place of worship until 1820 when a larger chapel was constructed about a mile northwest of the original site.
The pioneer families of the area included: Walker, MacCormack, MacDonald, MacPhee, Morrison, MacPherson, MacLean, and Campbell. They were routinely visited by Father Angus Bernard MacEachern, who had also emigrated with them from Scotland in 1790. He would later become the first Bishop of the Diocese of Charlottetown in 1829.
Today, although isolated, the site is well identified with a white cross and a memorial stone which explains the story of those who rest there. The site is evocative of a time when many early settlers used the waterways for transportation, which explains why it is so close to Boughton Bay.
Source: Culture and Heritage Division, PEI Department of Tourism and Culture, Charlottetown, PE C1A 7N8
File #: 4310-20/K4
The heritage value of the cemetery is shown in the following character-defining elements:
- the location of the cemetery in a grove of trees near the shores of Boughton Bay
- the remaining sandstone markers
- the potential for unmarked graves on the site
- the white cross and memorial stone on the site
- evidence of a stone dyke surrounding the cemetery