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Pioneer Cemetery

780 Lorne Street, Kamloops, British Columbia, V2C, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2007/10/30

Historic view of Pioneer Cemetery, 1884; City of Kamloops Museum and Archives #3446
View across site
View of Pioneer Cemetery, 2007; City of Kamloops, 2007
View across site
Historic view of tombstones in Pioneer Cemetery, 1884; City of Kamloops Museum and Archives #3258
View of tombstones

Other Name(s)

Pioneer Cemetery
Kamloops Pioneer Cemetery

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2009/06/23

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Pioneer Cemetery is located north of Lorne Street at the northeast end of Kamloops. Set on flat terrain overlooking the Thompson River and surrounded by a screen of mature deciduous and coniferous trees, the Pioneer Cemetery was closed in approximately 1900 and now functions as a park. A number of original tombstones have been relocated to the southwest corner of the site.

Heritage Value

The Pioneer Cemetery is valued as the oldest burial ground in Kamloops, adapted over time to suit changing community needs and demographics. Initially established in 1876 on land owned by rancher John Peterson (1825-1908), the cemetery provided a privately-owned space for the burial of early Kamloops residents. During the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway in the area from 1883 to 1885, and the subsequent population and economic boom, the Kamloops town site extended east, and Peterson’s land - including the title to the cemetery - was purchased by the New Town Syndicate in 1884. The syndicate charged a small fee for burial in what was, at the time, the only local cemetery. The City of Kamloops was incorporated in 1893, and five years later purchased land for the first public cemetery, which became the Pleasant Street Cemetery. The Pioneer Cemetery was used until approximately 1900. Over time, it fell into disrepair and the tombstones were vandalized. In 1962, the provincial government directed the City to look after the site, which was then converted into a park. The remaining tombstones were relocated to the southwest corner of the site, laid horizontally in concrete and surrounded by the remains of an historic wrought iron fence.

A physical testament to the strength and early beginnings of the Kamloops community, the cemetery embodies a collective memory and spirit. Many early residents were interred at the cemetery, including community members whose lives reflect the history, development, heroism and tragedies of the early history of Kamloops. The earliest remaining headstone is that of John Tannatt Ussher (1844-1879), noted as “Killed by the McLean Bros.” Other pioneers buried here include John Peterson and his wife, Margaret Alexandra (died 1898) Daniel Berkley Wiley (1832-1889), Peter J. Fraser (1869-1895), Reverend Freeman Harding (1842-1893) and members of the Edwards, Latremouille and Hancock families.

The cemetery also features many decorative and unique monuments and headstones, in materials such as sandstone, granite and marble, that are valued because they capture the fundamental nature of the cemetery's original design as a rustic Victorian park cemetery. These tombstones were generally vertical, monumental in style and inscribed with traditional Victorian symbols of death such as the scroll, column, tree trunk, clasped hands and star.

Source: City of Kamloops Planning Department

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the heritage character of the Pioneer Cemetery include its:
- location on historic Lorne Street with views of the Thompson River
- open expanse of lawn with a perimeter screen of mature deciduous trees
- variety of high quality gravestone materials such as carved granite, sandstone and marble
- variety of gravestone styles such as shouldered, domed and screened headstones, and flat plaque and slat-faced markers and column types such as sawed-off tree stumps, obelisks, and columns topped by spheres
- variety of Victorian gravestone symbols such as epitaphs, religious and plant/floral motifs, and body symbolism



British Columbia

Recognition Authority

Local Governments (BC)

Recognition Statute

Local Government Act, s.954

Recognition Type

Community Heritage Register

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


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




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

City of Kamloops Planning Department

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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