Description of Historic Place
Bronte Cemetery is located in Bronte Village between the West Street fork, south of Seneca Drive, in the Town of Oakville. The forested cemetery had its first burial in 1823.
The property was designated, by the Town of Oakville in 1987, for its heritage value, under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act, By-law 1987-294.
Bronte Cemetery is associated with the area's earliest pioneers. In 1830, Philip Sovereign deeded the east corner of his farm for the cemetery, after several people had been buried there, beginning in 1823. He specified that it be for people of "all orders, sects, nations and parties". Almost a third of the headstones belong to children, others to mariners. The mariners interred include, Jimmy Baker, first mate on the schooner Magellan, who died when it collided with the U. L. Hurd, in 1877 and the Dorland brothers, fishermen lost east of Bronte in the great gale and snowstorm of December 1886. Many of the early notable families in the cemetery include: Adams, Belyea, Butler, Dorland, Lucas, MacDonald, McWane, Osborne, Ribble, Sovereign, Triller and Williams.
Bronte Cemetery is a good representation of 19th century cemetery design. It is characterised by a naturalistic setting to attract and comfort the living, the use of markers and monuments to perpetuate the memory of individuals of historic importance and a park-like layout for public use. True to the original plan, gravesites are placed with separate individual markers.
Sources: Town of Oakville, By-law 1987-294; Town of Oakville website, Bronte Cemetery.
Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of Bronte Cemetery include its:
- original markers and monuments, with their surviving inscriptions
- variety of styles, materials and symbolism represented in the markers and monuments
- range of size and sophistication of markers and monuments, from modest to elaborate
- park-like layout including its mature trees
- individual grave markers with their surviving inscriptions
- location in Bronte on early settlement grounds