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St. Thomas of Villa Nova Cemetery Municipal Heritage Site

Conception Bay South, Newfoundland and Labrador, A0A, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2009/09/01

Looking east at St. Thomas of Villa Nova Cemetery,Photo taken August 2006; Kim Barnes, Town of Conception Bay South, 2007
St. Thomas of Villa Nova Cemetery
 View at entrance St. Thomas of Villa Nova Cemetery, 2696 Tosail Road, Topsail, Conception Bay South, Photo taken August 2006; Kim Barnes, Town of Conception Bay South, 2007
St. Thomas of Villa Nova Cemetery
North view of St. Thomas of Villa Nova Cemetery. Photo taken August 2006; Kim Barnes, Town of Conception Bay South, 2007
St. Thomas of Villa Nova Cemetery

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2007/06/04

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

St. Thomas of Villa Nova Cemetery is one of the oldest, continually used cemeteries in Conception Bay South. It is located at 2292 Topsail Road in Conception Bay South and overlooks the waters of Conception Bay. The cemetery contains various types of grave markers that show its evolution over its two hundred year history. The designation is confined to the area enclosed by the cemetery fence.

Heritage Value

St. Thomas of Villa Nova Cemetery has been designated a Municipal Heritage Site because it has historic, cultural and environmental values.

St. Thomas of Villa Nova Cemetery has historic values because of its early associations with the development of Roman Catholicism in the Topsail area. The parish encompassed a grouping of communities to form a single parish called St. Edward’s. In the mid-1800s St. Edward’s Chapel was built on the cemetery land, but has since been demolished. Eventually, a new church was built in another nearby location and was renamed St. Thomas of Villa Nova. The old cemetery was renamed to reflect its associations with the new church.

St. Thomas of Villa Nova Cemetery is also historically valuable because it contains headstones dating to the early 19th century, the earliest known is dated 1848. These gravemarkers serve as a genealogical record for community founders as well as a record of early settlement and land use. Some graves reveal immigration patterns from Ireland, while others reflect those who were “part time parishioners” – those who vacationed in the area during the summer, but were residents of St. John’s.

St. Thomas of Villa Nova Cemetery has cultural value as it represents a time when Roman Catholicism was in its earliest stages in the area. It serviced several nearby communities and so the cemetery was centrally located to meet the needs of the growing Roman Catholic population. It is still being used today for Roman Catholics in the area. It stands as a memorial to past and non-residents of the St. Edward’s/ St. Thomas of Villa Nova Parish.

St. Thomas of Villa Nova Cemetery has environmental value because of its location between Topsail Road, the main road through the community for more than 200 years, and Topsail Beach. It achieves environmental value due to its coastal setting. St. Thomas of Villa Nova is situated on a gently sloping piece of land that tapers towards the Atlantic Ocean, and offers a panoramic view of Conception Bay and Bell Island.

Source: Town of Conception Bay South Regular Council Meeting Motion 09-339 September 1, 2009.

Character-Defining Elements

All those elements which represent the age, natural environment and sacred function of the cemetery, including:
-variety of carved headstones and grave markers commemorating the first settlers in the community;
-original 19th century memorial stones and monuments, with their surviving inscriptions;
-unimpeded view of Conception Bay;
-location, orientation and dimensions;
-shape of cemetery reflecting its growth around original chapel, and now outwards toward Conception Bay.



Newfoundland and Labrador

Recognition Authority

NL Municipality

Recognition Statute

Municipalities Act

Recognition Type

Municipal Heritage Building, Structure or Land

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1848/01/01 to 1848/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Building Social and Community Life
Religious Institutions

Function - Category and Type



Religion, Ritual and Funeral
Mortuary Site, Cemetery or Enclosure

Architect / Designer



Roman Catholic Archdiocese

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Conception Bay South Heritage Advisory Committee, 106 Conception Bay Highway, Conception Bay South, NL, A1W 3A5

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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