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Old Burying Ground

1460 Barrington Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3J, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1988/10/06

Adam & Eve gravestone carved by James Hay in 1775, in memory of Mary Bulkeley, wife of the first Provincial Secretary Richard Bulkeley, Old Burying Ground, Halifax, 2007.; Heritage Division, NS Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2007
Adam & Eve Gravestone
Old Burying Ground, view looking towards Spring Garden Road, Halifax, NS, 2005.; Heritage Division, NS Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2005
General View
Circa 1865 view of Barrington Street entrance with Halifax Court House in background.; Courtesy of the Nova Scotia Museum, History Collection, 88.30.3
Ca. 1865 View

Other Name(s)

Old Burying Ground
St. Paul's Cemetery
Welsford-Parker (Sebastopol) Monument

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1749/01/01 to 1749/12/31

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2007/02/27

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Old Burying Ground was established within days of the founding of Halifax in 1749. It is located directly across from Government House, Saint Mary's Basilica, Saint Matthew's Church, and is adjacent to both the Old Court House and the Sexton Campus of Dalhousie University. It is at the corner of the two busiest shopping streets in Nova Scotia - Barrington Street and Spring Garden Road. The cemetery, monument and property are located in the provincial designation.

Heritage Value

The Old Burying Ground is valued for its close association with the founding of Halifax and for its age.

The Old Burying Ground was established within days of the founding of Halifax in 1749. The first burial was on June 22, 1749, the day after Governor Edward Cornwallis and the first settlers arrived. For nearly one-hundred years after, it was the principal burial ground for the city. Today 1200 headstones remain. As an eighteenth century graveyard, it is among the few still preserved on the North American continent and among the oldest cemeteries in the province.

The site contains excellent examples of the work of early gravestone carvers and some of the earliest native carved headstones. The beautiful "Adam & Eve" stone carved by James Hay in 1775, a memorial to Mary Bulkeley, wife of Richard Bulkeley the first Provincial Secretary who came to Canada with Cornwallis, is one of the finest examples of early gravestone art in Canada.

Framing the entrance to the Old Burying Ground is the large and impressive Sebastopol Monument. It was erected in 1860, built by public subscription and a provincial grant to commemorate the memory of Nova Scotians killed during the Crimean War, including Major A.F. Welsford and Captain W. Parker. These two men fought at the storming of the Redan and perished in the battle. It was constructed by mason George Lang of freestone from Albert County, New Brunswick. Lang designed it as a triumphal Roman arch surmounted by a British Lion, with the name of the battle – Sebastopol - and the fallen soldiers engraved in it.

The entire cemetery is surrounded by an historic ironstone wall topped by a cast iron fence. Large, mature trees give the graveyard a peaceful, park-like appearance. While the last burial took place in 1842, the cemetery remains open in the summer as a historic site.

Source: Provincial Heritage Program property files, no. 83, 1747 Summer Street, Halifax, NS.

Character-Defining Elements

Character-defining elements of the Old Burying Ground include:

- proximity to street and intersection of Barrington Street and Spring Garden Road;
- surrounding cast iron fence and posts;
- cast metal gates (made to replicate original cast iron gate);
- all grave stones and monuments, with their surviving inscriptions;
- grass-covered interment areas;
- ironstone wall.

Character-defining elements of the Welsford-Parker (Sebastopol) Monument include:

- freestone building materials;
- Roman style arch surmounted by a British lion;
- all inscriptions including ‘Sebastopol’ beneath lion, date 1855, Alma and Redan over arch, soldier’s names Welsford and Parker and regiment name;
- granite steps surrounding arch.



Nova Scotia

Recognition Authority

Province of Nova Scotia

Recognition Statute

Heritage Property Act

Recognition Type

Provincially Registered Property

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1860/01/01 to 1860/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Philosophy and Spirituality

Function - Category and Type


Historic or Interpretive Site


Religion, Ritual and Funeral
Mortuary Site, Cemetery or Enclosure
Commemorative Monument

Architect / Designer



Hay, James

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Provincial Heritage Program property files, no. 83, 1747 Summer Street, Halifax, NS.

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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