Description of Historic Place
The Longworth Avenue Roman Catholic Cemetery is a large graveyard located at 63 Longworth Avenue on a treed lot. It is the second cemetery for the Charlottetown Roman Catholic Community. The designation encompasses the boundaries of the cemetery grounds.
The heritage value of the Longworth Avenue Roman Catholic Cemetery lies in its association with Charlottetown's early inhabitants.
The Roman Catholic community of Charlottetown has been in existence since the 1760s, although it is not clear where they were buried during the early years. Despite the fact that there is no definite proof that Roman Catholics were buried in Charlottetown's oldest existing graveyard, the Old Protestant Burying Ground on University Avenue, a number of the surnames of those that were buried there are associated with the Roman Catholic community.
The first known Roman Catholic cemetery was outside of the former boundaries of the City at 123 St. Peters Road. An 1811 land conveyance document reveals that Isaac Newton conveyed a parcel of land to Richard Oxley, indicating that the sale of the parcel of land was to include everything save for a section the size of a town lot to be set aside for a burying place. Roman Catholics used this burying ground for approximately thirty years, when its was abandoned for a cemetery closer to Charlottetown on Longworth Avenue.
Bishop Bernard Donald MacDonald consecrated the Longworth Avenue Cemetery on 18 July 1843. It was established on land that the Bishop had recently purchased. The earliest known burial was Moses Keough on 10 March 1846 and the last was Catherine Morris on 19 July 1884. The present day burial site for Charlottetown Roman Catholics was opened in August of that year.
A number of prominent Charlottetown Roman Catholics are buried within the Longworth Avenue Cemetery including merchant, Daniel Brenan and newspaperman and Father of Confederation, Edward Whelan. The less prominent are also buried within its borders. George Kelly, a poor teenager who was shot on a Charlottetown Street by two Charlottetown "dandies" (that were never convicted of the crime) is buried there. As well, a number of Irish immigrants, who died of Typhus aboard the "Lady Constable" ship, lay in unmarked graves in the Longworth Avenue Cemetery.
Unfortunately, due to lack of information regarding Roman Catholic burials before 1874 and the fact that many of the stones that once marked the graves have been vandalized and removed, it is impossible to know how many people are actually buried at the Longworth Avenue site. At least 460 people are known to be buried there, but some have estimated the number as high as 1500. In the 1980s, pieces of gravestones from the Longworth Avenue Cemetery began surfacing off the banks of Victoria Park. The badly damaged stones had been dumped there after a cleanup in the 1950s. The markers were returned and laid in the back section of the cemetery.
An important part of the history of Charlottetown, the Longworth Avenue Roman Catholic Cemetery is a monument to the memory of Charlottetown's early inhabitants - some 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 Longworth Avenue Roman Catholic Cemetery:
- The location of the graveyard on Longworth Avenue
- Its size and borders
- The size, placement, carvings and inscriptions of the grave markers
- The treed lot