Major's Point Cemetery
Pointe à Major Cemetery
La chapelle et le cimetière acadienne
Acadian Cemetery and Chapel
La Petite Chapelle
Links and documents
1774/01/01 to 1774/12/31
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Pointe à Major Cemetery and chapel is located in the rural community of Belliveau’s Cove, in an area known as Nova Scotia’s Acadian Shore. The site is near the end of an unpaved road and slightly inland from a long beach and dune complex on Saint Mary’s Bay. Municipal heritage designation applies to the chapel, the cemetery and the commemorative cairn with its heritage plaque.
The heritage value of the Pointe à Major Cemetery lies in its associations with those buried here, with the Acadian families who settled this area, some of whom had escaped the Expulsion of 1755, and with others who returned and settled here later. It is also valued for the commemorative cairn and for the small chapel on the site, which has stood here since 1892.
According to local tradition, in the fall of 1755 an Acadian man, Pierre (“Piau”) Belliveau, escaped by boat with his family and a number of other Acadians from Port Royal, where the Great Expulsion, “le Grand Dérangement”, of the Acadian people was taking place. The refugees made their way here, to Pointe à Major, where they spent the winter and it is believed that several of their number died in the harsh conditions and are buried here, though it has not been possible to determine the exact location of their graves. In the spring of 1756 the little group left this site and made their way by boat to the St. John River and eventually to the Bay of Chaleur in northern New Brunswick. One of them, Jean Belliveau, brother of "Piau" Belliveau, returned later and founded this community, now known as Belliveau’s Cove.
Beginning in 1764 the Acadian people were allowed to return to Nova Scotia. By 1770 they were being encouraged to return through the policies of Nova Scotia Governor, Michael Francklin, who guaranteed Catholic worship and land grants. Among those to arrive here in 1770 was Amable Doucet and his wife, Marie. The following year Marie Doucet passed away and was buried at this site. Hers is the first recorded burial here and hers is the only stone marker in the little cemetery.
In the fall of 1774 a missionary by the name of Fr. Joseph-Mathurin Bourg, who had recently been appointed vicar general in Acadia, arrived in Belliveau’s Cove and celebrated the second Mass in Clare. He also blessed this burial ground, thereby giving it official status as a cemetery. Burials continued at this site until around 1790, when a new cemetery was established in the nearby community of Church Point.
Over the next seventy-six years, this site was left to nature and uncared for until 1866 when, in preparation for a local celebration, the cemetery was cleaned up of the brush and debris that had accumulated over the years. Unfortunately, when the celebration was over, the cemetery was again left to the forces of nature.
In 1889, through the efforts of a new parish priest, the residents of the community once again turned out to clean up the old cemetery. By then, most of the grave markers had disappeared and it was difficult to locate the graves, but a fence was erected around the cemetery and a large cedar cross was placed in the centre. A small wooden chapel was also built on the site at that time. On September 8, 1889 a solemn Mass was celebrated and prayers for the dead were recited.
In 1892 a new, larger chapel was built to replace the earlier one and it is this chapel that is still extant at the Pointe à Major Cemetery. This site is visited by many throughout the year for religious and patriotic celebrations as well as to visit the gravesites of ancestors. In 2004 this was one of the gathering sites for the Acadian quatercentenary ceremonies, when people with Acadian roots from many parts of the world returned for the celebrations. These visits, by individuals or groups, are an indication of the continued emotional significance of this site for the local Acadian population.
Source: Municipal heritage property file, Municipality of the District of Clare, 1185 Highway 1, PO Box 458, Little Brook, Nova Scotia B0W 1Z0.
The character-defining elements of the Pointe à Major Cemetery include;
- a small, wood-framed and wood-clad chapel;
- commemorative wooden crosses with engraved names of those buried here;
- collection of religious and commemorative materials, including a guest book, statuary and candles;
- large, white-painted cross in centre of burial lot;
- one stone grave marker;
- wooden fence surrounding burial ground;
- a commemorative cairn with heritage plaque.
Local Governments (NS)
Heritage Property Act
Municipally Registered Property
1771/01/01 to 1790/01/01
1892/01/01 to 1892/01/01
1755/01/01 to 1755/01/01
Theme - Category and Type
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Philosophy and Spirituality
- Peopling the Land
Function - Category and Type
- Religion, Ritual and Funeral
- Religious Facility or Place of Worship
- Religion, Ritual and Funeral
- Mortuary Site, Cemetery or Enclosure
- Commemorative Monument
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Municipality of the District of Clare, 1185 Highway 1, PO Box 458, Little Brook, NS B0W 1Z0
Cross-Reference to Collection