Description of Historic Place
The Burying Ground is located on Main Street in Wolfville 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 land, gravestones, wall and fence are included in the provincial designation.
The 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.
After the Congregationalists and Baptists jointly erected a Meeting House in 1776, burials were made adjacent to it, though some may have been buried at this site as early as 1763. In 1829, a new church was built on the site and this was replaced by another in 1860 which in turn was replaced by the present Baptist Church, built in 1912. Throughout this period the adjoining graveyard remained in use, though it ceased after 1882 to be used by the general community with the opening of the Willowbank Cemetery. About 400 individuals are buried in the Burying Ground.
Among the people interred in the cemetery are: Nathan DeWolf (1729-1789), 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 Reverend 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 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 stonecarver James Hay. Many of his sandstone grave markers are unique to the Horton-Wolfville area. The Second Horton Carver's work is featured here as well. His carvings date from 1798 to 1805.
Source: Provincial Heritage Program property files, no. 117, 1747 Summer Street, Halifax, NS.
Character-defining elements of the 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.