Old Kirk Burying Ground
36 John Street, Shelburne, Nova Scotia, B0T, Canada
Links and documents
1784/01/01 to 1784/12/31
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Old Kirk Burying Ground is located on a prominent lot in the centre of Shelburne beside St. John’s United Church. In use since 1784, it provides a historical record of Shelburne’s Presbyterian history. Provincial designation applies only to the burial ground and does not include the church or church hall.
The Old Kirk Burying Ground is valued as a visual record of the development of the Presbyterian Church in Shelburne from the arrival of the Loyalist settlers in the eighteenth century to the present day.
A cemetery was established on this property by Loyalists in 1784. These settlers came to Shelburne to escape the American Revolution and were members of the Church of Scotland. The cemetery was located near the temporary Presbyterian Church, or Kirk. Between 1803 and 1804 a more permanent church, St. John’s Kirk, was built beside the cemetery. The church was used until it was sold and moved to make way for the new Trinity United Presbyterian Church. At the 1925 union to form the United Church of Canada, the church became Trinity United Church. Many of Shelburne’s earliest settlers, including George Gracie, Rev. Matthew Dripps and Alex Leyburn are buried there.
Many of the gravestones in the Old Kirk Burying Ground date from the eighteenth century and were carved locally, which is not the case for many of the eighteenth-century headstones in other early Nova Scotian graveyards such as the Old Burying Ground in Halifax or the graveyard beside Fort Anne in Annapolis Royal. The cemetery is located on a prominent site within the town on a piece of land granted to several early residents by the British Crown in trust for the public for the erection of a Protestant church.
Source: Provincial Heritage Property files, no. 122, Heritage Division, 1747 Summer Street, Halifax, NS
Character-defining elements of the Old Kirk Burying Ground include:
- location on a prominent lot in the centre of Shelburne;
- historic headstones carved by local masons;
- absence of roads or automobile thoroughfare;
- historic fences surrounding some plots;
- granite slabs supporting part of a knoll.
Province of Nova Scotia
Heritage Property Act
Provincially Registered Property
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
Location of Supporting Documentation
Provincial Heritage Property files, no. 122, Heritage Division, 1747 Summer Street, Halifax, NS.
Cross-Reference to Collection