Description of Historic Place
The Tusket Lakes Cemetery was established in 1866, is one of earliest planned cemeteries in southwestern Nova Scotia and is the burial site of the ancestors of many present day residents of the surrounding villages. It is located on Canaan Road in the community of Gavelton and municipal heritage designation applies to the entire property as laid out on its original plan.
The Tusket Lakes Cemetery in the village of Gavelton is valued as one the earliest planned cemeteries in south-western Nova Scotia; as the burial place of four of its original trustees, who were the ancestors of many families still residing in the area; and for its continued use. It is also valued for its historical associations with George S. Brown and P. Lent Hatfield.
In June of 1865 Job and Albert Hurlburt sold this lot of land to George S. Brown "in trust for a public cemetery". Brown, best known as the compiler of dozens of genealogies of Yarmouth County families and as the author of “Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, a Sequel to Campbell's History,” was also the designer of the landscaping and lot layout for this cemetery. In 1866 P. Lent Hatfield surveyed the lot and drew a beautifully detailed, to-scale map of Brown's plan. Hatfield was the area's best and most noted surveyor during his career, and was also the Municipal Treasurer for the Municipality of the District of Argyle for many years.
The plan for the cemetery allowed for 612 plots, most of which measured twenty feet square, although some were considerably larger. Well laid out, 2.4m wide avenues named for various native trees, such as maple, spruce, pine, cedar and hemlock, were also incorporated, as was the placement of various plantings and other decorative features. A 1.5m wide turf wall set the cemetery off from the road on the original plan, though this was later replaced by a stone wall.
The Tusket Lakes Cemetery Company was incorporated by an Act of the Nova Scotia Legislature, Chapter 134, passed April 16, 1888, and has monuments for four of its original trustees: John W. Raynard, Richard Hatfield, William W. Andrews and Charles Andrews, whose descendants still reside in the area. The cemetery was regularly used until 1916, and then became inactive for nearly eighty years until 1995 when a new burial marked the cemetery's reactivation.
In 1994 a new Board of Trustees was formed, who assumed the challenge of clearing the undergrowth, levelling, seeding and mowing the property, repairing the broken monuments, and otherwise repairing damage which had occurred over years of disuse and neglect. Their efforts and regular maintenance brought to light several graves and markers that had been long forgotten as well as some of the landscape features that had been shown on the plan but was no longer discernible because of the dense growth. The clearing efforts have also made available many of the unoccupied plots that can now be sold and will insure the continued use of this cemetery for many years to come.
Source: Registered Heritage Property files: Tusket Lakes Cemetery; located at 400 Main Street, Yarmouth, NS.
The character-defining elements of the Tusket Lakes Cemetery include:
- location in a rural community;
- planned configuration of avenues and plots;
- stone wall across front;
- stone well;
- original grave markers and inscribed monuments including those for four original trustees;
- mature trees throughout the property;
- grass-covered avenues, each identified with a name marker.