Old Burying Ground
The Old Cemetery
Links and documents
1763/01/01 to 1763/12/31
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Old Burying Ground is located on Main Street, Wolfville, NS, on the north side of the busy intersection of Main Street and Highland Avenue, just beyond the commercial centre of town. A random-rubble stone wall encloses the entire front side of the cemetery and includes a large wrought iron gate at its entrance. The cemetery grounds, which include some of the oldest trees in Wolfville, consist of several grass-covered interment areas, and separate family burial plots enclosed with stone pillars and iron links. The cemetery’s large grounds and mature trees provide a quiet oasis on one of Wolfville’s busiest streets. The land, grave stones, wall and fence are included in the municipal designation.
The Old Burying Ground is valued for its spiritual and cultural significance to the town of Wolfville, with its carved tombstones providing additional historic and artistic value. In essence, the site serves as a record of the lives of the diverse townspeople who have lived in Wolfville since the town was founded. The gravestones signify an enduring association with the past by displaying the epitaphs, symbols, and carvings that chart over two centuries of spiritual life in the community.
The earliest cemetery in Wolfville and the only burial ground available to citizens until 1818, the Old Burying Ground interred people from all denominations. The earliest tombstone dates to 1774, and among the people interred in the cemetery are: Nathan DeWolf (1729-89), the founder of Wolfville; Peter Bishop (1736-1825), the first minister of the Wolfville Baptist Church; Professor Isaac Chipman, the builder of Acadia University; and Rev. Edmund Albern Crawley (1799-1888), the founder-in-chief of Acadia University, one of its first two professors, and the designer of the first college building.
The Old Burying Ground is also valued for the primitive folk art designs found on many gravestones, some of which showcase the work of the Horton Carver (fl. 1783-1793), who is said to have been Scottish stone carver James Hay. Many of his sandstone grave markers are unique to the Horton-Wolfville area.
Sources: Town of Wolfville Heritage Property Program files, the Old Burying Ground file.
Character-defining elements of the Old Burying Ground include:
- random-rubble stone wall with a wrought iron gate entrance;
- mature trees that separate the cemetery from the street and nearby intersection;
- original and historic grave stones and monuments, with their surviving inscriptions;
- grass-covered interment areas, and separate family burial plots enclosed with stone pillars and iron links.
Local Governments (NS)
Heritage Property Act
Municipally Registered Property
Theme - Category and Type
- Building Social and Community Life
- Religious Institutions
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Philosophy and Spirituality
Function - Category and Type
- Religion, Ritual and Funeral
- Mortuary Site, Cemetery or Enclosure
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Inventory Site Form found at Planning and Development Services, Town of Wolfville, 200 Dykeland Street, Wolfville, NS B4P 1A2
Cross-Reference to Collection