Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
Founders Cemetery was established circa 1815 in the rural community of Beaver River, south of the Yarmouth / Digby County boundary. It is located on the east side of Highway No. 1, about six-tenths of a kilometre north of the Port Maitland village line. The municipal heritage designation applies to the entire cemetery property which runs between the highway and Beaver Lake.
Founders Cemetery is the earliest community cemetery in the area. Its heritage value lies in its history as the burial site of a number of the area’s earliest settlers and in being one of three cemeteries recently restored by a local cemetery preservation organization, and the community support and awareness this work has brought about.
Founders Cemetery was established circa 1815, although the first known burial here was that of Jonathan Raymond who was buried on April 11, 1819. Many other early settlers were buried here, including Joseph Sollows, the first English settler in the neighbouring community of Port Maitland. Although there are many grave markers remaining here in various stages of preservation, some were removed over time as the cemetery was neglected. Others were broken or otherwise damaged.
In 1999, as the result of a letter written to the Municipality of the District of Yarmouth asking that this abandoned cemetery be cleared of brush and alders in preparation for a Corning family reunion, a public meeting was held in Port Maitland, and the Old Beaver River/Port Maitland Cemeteries Preservation Society was formed. The goal of the organization was, and continues to be, to restore the three abandoned cemeteries in the area - two in Beaver River and another nearby in Port Maitland. Under the initial leadership of the late Rev. Ulric Dawson, a few dedicated volunteers began work in the summer of 1999. To date, two of the three cemeteries, including this one, have been cleared, grave markers have been placed upright, damaged markers have been pieced together and laid on gravel in wooden frames and a complete inventory of all the markers has been compiled. It is now possible to mow this and one other of the three cemeteries, keeping them visible and attractively maintained. The work has returned the cemeteries to the community; prior to this work few residents were aware they existed. One of the most recent additions to this cemetery is the erection of a flagpole and signage to further enhance public awareness of the site.
In the 1970s and 1980s markers from old and/or abandoned burial grounds were often removed and using as door steps or patio stones. One marker, that of six month old baby Jesse Corning, was taken to Ontario where it was stored in a basement for forty years until 2005, when a guilty conscience finally compelled the person who took it to arrange to return it to its rightful place. Several badly deteriorated slate markers have had wooden “dog houses” placed over them to prevent further deterioration and many grave markers that had fallen over or been broken have been placed in new bases designed to prevent further damage.
Source: Registered Heritage Property files: Founders Cemetery
The character-defining elements of the Founders Cemetery include:
- location on west side of Beaver Lake;
- proximity to the Yarmouth / Digby County boundary;
- historic grave markers;
- grass covered lot;
- plots arranged in rows;
- flagpole and “Founders Cemetery” sign.
Local Governments (NS)
Heritage Property Act
Municipally Registered Property
Theme - Category and Type
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Philosophy and Spirituality
Function - Category and Type
- Religion, Ritual and Funeral
- Mortuary Site, Cemetery or Enclosure
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Heritage Property files located at the Heritage Office, 400 Main Street, Yarmouth, NS B5A 1G2
Cross-Reference to Collection