Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
Topsail United Church Cemetery is the burial ground to many original settlers of Topsail. The Cemetery is located next to Topsail United Church, which is situated at 2424 Topsail Rd., Conception Bay South. The designation is confined to the boundaries of the cemetery.
Topsail United Church Cemetery was designated a municipal heritage site because it has spiritual, historical and cultural values.
Topsail United Church Cemetery has spiritual value because from the earliest time, settlers to this province held strong religious beliefs and this is evident in the early burials at the United Church cemetery. Although the daily work of the early settlers was very demanding, whenever a death occurred, a solemn ceremony was held. As a sign of the high regard and reverence settlers had for their dead and the cemetery, grave markings can be found as basic rock formations serving as headstones, and commercially made headstones with basic markings and engravings. These customs remind us of the strong religious beliefs the Topsail settlers had for their church and cemetery, and how death was always a part of their lives.
The Topsail United Church Cemetery has historical value because there are notable residents buried there, including Rev. Dr. Reyonalds who was the senior president of conference and frequent guest preacher at the church. Also buried there is Rev. Thomas Fox, who was one of the earlier ministers of the Methodist Church. He resided in Topsail and acted as supernumerary in retirement. Both Rev. Dr. Reyonalds and Rev. Fox were active members of the community, as well as the church.
Another noteworthy Topsail resident, Postmistress-poet Mrs. Phebe Florence Miller, rests at Topsail United Church Cemetery. Mrs. Miller was born in 1889 and spent all of her life in Topsail. In 1907, she entered the work force as the government telegraph operator in Topsail; in 1928 she was also made postmistress and in 1935 she moved to the newly established wireless station. The post office, which often housed the telegraph and wireless stations, was an important addition to many Newfoundland communities in the later half of the 19th-century. As the main centre for communications with the outside world, it was a gathering place where people learned of happenings both local and international. It was vital that the person who operated these marvels of modern communication command the respect of the townspeople, as he or she was often privy to very personal and private information. Phebe Miller gained her nickname “Postmistress Poet” because she was an accomplished writer who had many poems published, most notably by the American Greetings group of companies. Miller remained very active throughout her life until she died in 1979.
The Topsail United Church Cemetery has Cultural value because it displays how the early settlers had a strong sense of religion and despite daily activities, duty to church and the importance of following sound Christian values shaped the spiritual life of the community residents. Whenever a death occurred in the community all the residents would be available to help, whether it was to hand dig the grave, or for some to stay up all night for the typical three day wake, to the eventual burial of the body, which always faced the feet east. It was those customs and religious acts that kept the settlers grounded and fixed to their Christian beliefs and values.
Source: Town of Conception Bay South Regular Council Meeting Motion #03-541 November 4, 2003.
All those elements which represent the age, natural environment and sacred function of the cemetery, including:
-a variety of carved headstones and grave markers belonging to a number of historic local persons;
-original memorial stones and monuments, with their surviving inscriptions;
-the unimpeded view of Conception Bay;and
-location, orientation and dimensions.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Municipal Heritage Building, Structure or Land
1848/01/01 to 2004/01/01
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
Location of Supporting Documentation
Town of Conception Bay South
106 Conception Bay Highway
Conception Bay South, NL, Canada
Cross-Reference to Collection