Description of Historic Place
Holy Trinity Cemetery is a picturesque 0.8 hectare burial ground surrounding Holy Trinity Church on the southeast corner of Mills and West Saanich Roads in North Saanich. Located on flat terrain overlooking Patricia Bay, the cemetery includes 1,700 plots and numerous memorials and mature landscape features.
Holy Trinity Cemetery is valued as the oldest extant cemetery in North Saanich, for its associations with the Holy Trinity church and congregation and for the record it provides of the history of the North Saanich community. It is further valued as a picturesque Victorian cemetery that includes a variety of decorative memorials and plantings.
As the oldest extant cemetery in North Saanich, Holy Trinity Cemetery is inextricably linked with the development of Holy Trinity Church and the pioneer community of North Saanich. The cemetery is situated on land donated to the church by local farmer George Mills, who was also the first resident to be buried in the original churchyard. Since being declared a cemetery in 1891, the site has been expanded to meet the needs of the parish, and it continues to function as a cemetery today.
A physical testament to the strength and origins of the Holy Trinity congregation and the North Saanich community, the cemetery embodies a collective memory and spirit. A wide variety of North Saanich pioneers were interred at the cemetery, including many community members with local, provincial and national connections, whose personal stories reflect the history, development, heroism and tragedy of the early history of North Saanich. Noted pioneers buried here include William Towner (1840-1925), Richard John (died 1892) and Alice Horth (née Wain, 1858-1945).
The Holy Trinity Cemetery also reflects the impact on the community of both the First and Second World Wars. It is a resting place for members of the Canadian Forces, the RCMP, and various other military organizations. Among the well-known individuals buried here is George Pearkes (1888-1984), a Canadian Army General who was awarded the Victoria Cross and later became Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia.Of the eighteen ministers who have served Holy Trinity Church, five are buried in the cemetery.
Holy Trinity Cemetery also features many decorative and unique monuments and headstones, in materials such as sandstone, granite and marble that capture the fundamental nature of its origins as a picturesque Victorian cemetery. Many of the marker stones are hand-hewn, monumental in style and inscribed with traditional symbols of death such as the Latin cross, urn, dove, and ivy. There are additionally a number of mature plantings that are traditionally associated with Victorian cemeteries. In addition, two trees, which are marked with dedication plaques, were planted to commemorate the coronation of King George VI in 1937: an English Oak from Windsor Great Park and a Scots Pine from Kew Gardens, London.
Source: District of North Saanich Planning Department
Key elements that define the heritage character of Holy Trinity Cemetery include its:
- corner location at the intersection of Mills Road and West Saanich Road, immediately surrounding Holy Trinity Church
- original side-gabled lych gate of wood frame construction, with Tudor Revival detailing, cedar shingled roof, heavy timber posts, built-in benches and scalloped bargeboards
- open expanse of lawn with traditional Victorian cemetery plantings such as flowering plum and cherry trees, Garry Oak, English Oak, American Elm, Copper Beech, Birch and Coulter Pine
- commemorative plantings, such as a Royal English Oak and a Scots Pine planted in 1937
- variety of high quality gravestone materials, such as carved granite, sandstone, and marble
- variety of gravestone styles, such as shouldered and domed headstones, flat plaque and slat-faced markers, and column types, such as obelisks and columns
- variety of Victorian gravestone symbols such as epitaphs, religious and plant/floral motifs
- continuing use as a cemetery