Pioneer Burying Ground
Eagle Street Cemetery
Saint Paul's Anglican Church Cemetery
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Eagle Street Cemetery (also known as the Pioneer Burying Ground and the St. Paul's Anglican Church Cemetery) was established circa 1820. The cemetery sits on a rise of ground on the North Side of Eagle Street, approximately half way between Yonge Street and Main Street in the town of Newmarket. The cemetery consists of the remains of at least 120 of Newmarket's early pioneers, some of whom were prominent in the establishment of the town. The cemetery occupied a prominent position in the early community of Newmarket.
The Eagle Street Cemetery has been designated for its historical significance by the Town of Newmarket, By-law number 2003-56.
When the Rev. Adam Elliot, an Anglican missionary priest, arrived in the area in 1832 he wrote that land had been cleared for a cemetery a few years earlier. It appears that this cemetery was originally set aside for the family of Elisha Beman, one of the town's early founders. It remained as a private family cemetery until the 1860s.
In 1863 the Honorable Henry John Boulton of Toronto, for $1.00, conveyed the “Grave Yard” to the Rev. Septimus Fowler Ramsay, clerk incumbent of Old St. Paul's Church, Newmarket, together with the church wardens, “for the trusts and uses therein contained”. Even though the cemetery was associated with St. Paul's it was open to all denominations.
The cemetery continued to be used for the next 60 years. Many of the persons buried here took part in the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, the War of 1812, and the fall of British Detroit. Some were members of the Family Compact while others took part in the Rebellion of 1837.
Some of the prominent pioneers buried here include William Roe, a town founder; Dr. Christopher Beswick, a pioneer physician; Esther Sayer Robinson Bowman, mother of Peter, William, and Sir John Beverly Robinson; founder Elisha Beman; John MacDonald, a North West Company Trader; Ann Roe, widow of Walter Roe, last British Chief Magistrate of Detroit.
After the nondenominational Newmarket Cemetery opened in 1869, northwest of the village, some of the burials made originally in St. Paul's cemetery were removed to the Newmarket Cemetery Company. The last burial took place in 1932 since the cemetery had reached capacity.
By the 1940's the cemetery was overgrown with brush and small trees, however under the guidance of Canon J.T. Rhodes in 1947, the property was cleared and the fallen tombstones were gathered into two cement cairns. A concrete Celtic cross was erected as the focal point of the renewed hallowed ground. Evidence supports the fact that some of the early settlers were buried near the entrance of the cemetery, although the markers have been moved.
The Pioneer Burying Ground is an attractive historic site in a park-like setting that honours the pioneers of its community. A plaque recognizing its historic significance was added in 1979. The cemetery still holds a valid license.
Sources: Town of Newmarket heritage designation by-law 2003-56, April 18, 2003 and Heritage Newmarket file: Pioneer Burying Ground St. Paul's Church
Key character defining elements that illustrate the heritage value include:
- remains of at least 120 of Newmarket's early pioneers
- remaining grave markers
- fencing on all four sides and pathways creating a park like atmosphere
- main entrance with historic plaque off of Eagle Street
Local Governments (ON)
Ontario Heritage Act
Heritage Conservation District (Part V)
1820/01/01 to 2006/01/01
Theme - Category and Type
- Peopling the Land
Function - Category and Type
- Religion, Ritual and Funeral
- Mortuary Site, Cemetery or Enclosure
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
c/o Elman Campbell Museum
134 Main Street South
Newmarket Historical Society
134 Main Street South
St. Paul's Anglican Church
227 Church Street
Cross-Reference to Collection