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Omnibus Cemetery

18968 Route 12, Tignish Shore, Prince Edward Island, C0B, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2003/06/19

Only standing headstone in the Omnibus Cemetery; Province of PEI - 1999
Headstone of John Gillespie
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Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2006/05/01

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Omnibus Cemetery is a pioneer cemetery used by various Protestant denominations in the region of Tignish Shore, in western PEI. The site is located on the south side of the Tignish Shore Road and east of Route 12, the North Cape Coastal Drive. Today, it is abandoned and overgrown. The site also originally contained a church. The registration includes the cemetery itself.

Heritage Value

The Omnibus Cemetery is significant as an example of the solidarity among the various Protestant denominations in the mid-19th Century in western PEI. It was established together with a church by Anglicans, Baptists, Presbyterians, and Methodists. The church was the first Protestant church in the Tignish area. It opened on January 29, 1860 and was named Omnibus, meaning "all would be one". The diaries of Rev. Robert William Dyer (1808-1887), an Anglican clergyman who came from Newfoundland in 1859 and stayed on PEI, reveal much of our information on the religious history of the site. The text for the first sermon in the now vanished church came from Exodus 20:24. The first burial recorded was of a Mr. Grey in 1869.

It is also valued for its connection to the historic 1873 August Gale. In the aftermath of the devastating storm, two seamen, John Gillespie and John McLeod, were interred there after they drowned in the sinking of the "Carrie R. Rich" on a reef in nearby North Cape. John Gillespie's tombstone is the only remaining headstone still standing today. The August Gale and its impact on PEI is discussed fully by Dr. Edward MacDonald in his article: "The August Gale and the Arc of Memory on Prince Edward Island," The Island Magazine, Number 56 (Fall/Winter 2004): 10-20.

When all the denominations established their own individual congregations, the church and cemetery gradually fell into disuse. By 1946-1950, road widening construction near the site actually removed headstones which were in the way of the new road! Today, there is only one headstone visible. The details of Rev. Dyer's diary are preserved in the Alberton Museum.

The site is symbollic and evocative of some of the earliest pioneer inhabitants of the Tignish Shore area.

Source: PEI Heritage Advisory Committee Files

Character-Defining Elements

The elements which embody the heritage value of the Omnibus Cemetery include:
- the cemetery in its location, extent and surviving land formations
- evidence of the use of the place as a cemetery with unmarked graves and a surviving headstone



Prince Edward Island

Recognition Authority

Province of Prince Edward Island

Recognition Statute

Heritage Places Protection Act

Recognition Type

Registered Historic Place

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1869/01/01 to 1869/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Peopling the Land

Function - Category and Type


Religion, Ritual and Funeral
Mortuary Site, Cemetery or Enclosure


Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Located in the Culture and Heritage Division, Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, Charlottetown, PE C1A 7N8 File #: 4310-20/00

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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