Description of Historic Place
The Old Protestant Burying Ground is a large, well maintained cemetery located on one of Charlottetown's busiest streets - University Avenue. A number of Charlottetown's earliest inhabitants were interred there and it has become a valuable source of information for historians and genealogists. Dating from 1784, it is one of the oldest cemeteries in Charlottetown. It ceased to be used in the 1870s and became neglected until a restoration project was launched in 1999. The designation encompasses the boundaries of the cemetery grounds.
The heritage value of the Old Protestant Burying Ground lies in its late Eighteenth Century origins and its association with Charlottetown's early inhabitants.
Although one of the oldest cemeteries in Charlottetown, the Old Protestant Burying Ground, or Elm Avenue Cemetery as it was once called, was not the first cemetery in the City. Before it opened, a cemetery associated with the military was used, however the exact location is unknown. Some believe that it was located in a now commercial area of Charlottetown, the block bordered by Queen, Grafton, Richmond and Pownal Streets.
Although consecrated and deeded to St Paul's Anglican Church in 1826, the Old Protestant Burying Ground was used by a number of Protestant denominations, as it was the only cemetery in operation at the time, apart from the Roman Catholic Cemetery. The first known burial in 1789 was of Isabella Bell, the wife of Sergeant George Bell of the 21st Grenadiers. This head stone remains today. The last burial was that of Mrs. Archibald MacNeill, who was placed in the sepulcher in December 1872. Approximately one year later, 1 January 1874, the cemetery was ordered closed by law.
It has been estimated that the Old Protestant Burying Ground holds the remains of up to 4000 people. Unfortunately vandalism, years of neglect and the ravages of time have been hard on the site and sadly, original markers were lost. However, in recent years, a local group has painstakingly restored the old cemetery as a millennium preservation project. It was rededicated in a service held in August 2000. Improvements made to the site include: the location and repair of grave markers; the addition of a beautiful iron fence; and the erection of signage. The area is now well maintained and has become a park like place which encourages visitors to learn local history by reading the interpretive signage.
A very old site, the cemetery holds the remains of some of Charlottetown's most prominent citizens. It is a valuable source of information about many of Charlottetown's early inhabitants - many of whom shaped the history of the City and the Province.
Sources: Heritage Office, City of Charlottetown Planning Department, PO Box 98, Charlottetown, PE C1A 7K2
The following character-defining elements contribute to the heritage value of the Old Protestant Burying Ground:
- The location of the graveyard on University Avenue
- Its size and borders
- The size, placement, carvings and inscriptions of the grave markers
- The road that runs down the centre of the graveyard
- The treed lot
- The decorative iron fence surrounding the grounds