Free Will Baptist Cemetery
Highway 1, Beaver River, Nova Scotia, B0W, Canada
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Free Will Baptist Cemetery was established circa 1852 in the rural community of Beaver River, Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia when the church of that name was built on the site. It is located on Highway 1 about eight tenths of a kilometre north of Port Maitland. Municipal heritage designation applies to the entire cemetery lot and grave markers.
The Free Will Baptist Cemetery is valued as the burial site of many late nineteenth century residents of the area, for its remaining grave markers and as being one of three abandoned cemeteries in the area which in recent years have been restored by a volunteer cemeteries preservation organization.
The Free Will Baptist Cemetery was established circa 1852 when the Free Will Baptist Church that stood on this lot was constructed. The earliest known burial was for an eight-month-old baby in May 1840, however it is surmised that he was originally interred elsewhere and his remains moved here after the Free Will Baptist Church was built. The last known burial took place in May 1907; two years after the church was torn down. There were sixty-five known burials here, and about forty-five markers remaining. It is known that a number of the remains and gravestones were removed at some point to the larger, currently in-use community cemetery. Removals from one cemetery to another were apparently a relatively common occurrence until more recent years.
This is the first abandoned cemetery in the area to benefit from the efforts of the Old Beaver River/Port Maitland Cemeteries Preservation Society, which was formed in 1999 as the direct result of a letter written to the Municipality of the District of Yarmouth office requesting that the Municipality clear the dense overgrowth here and in a neighbouring cemetery for a family reunion. It was decided by the Society to “adopt” all three of the area’s abandoned cemeteries and to clear and maintain them and return as many headstones as possible to an upright position. This was the most densely overgrown cemetery of the three and took the longest to return to a state where it could be mowed on a regular basis to keep it visible. The old church’s cellar was filled in, the footprint of the building outlined with stones and a sign erected identifying the former site of the church. A flagpole and sign have also been erected to identify the cemetery and keep it in the public’s awareness.
Source: Registered heritage property files: Free Will Baptist Cemetery; located at the Heritage Office, 400 Main Street, Yarmouth, NS, B5A 1G2.
The character-defining elements of the Free Will Baptist Cemetery include:
- location on west side of Beaver Lake;
- proximity to another registered heritage cemetery;
- all grave markers;
- uneven ground;
- historical ties to present day community residents;
- footprint of site of former church outlined in stones;
- flagpole and sign identifying cemetery.
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