Old Common Burial Ground
Old Congregational Cemetery
Links and documents
1759/01/01 to 1759/12/31
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Old Common Burial Ground was the first cemetery to be officially established in the township of Liverpool. It is located near the central business district on Main Street in Liverpool, Queens County, Nova Scotia. Municipal heritage designation applies to the cemetery, the markers and the landscape features.
The Old Common Burial Ground in Liverpool was set aside as a burying ground in the 1764 division of lots among the New England Planter proprietors who first settled the township in late 1759. Originally called the Congregational Cemetery, it was used by all denominations to bury their dead until it was filled to capacity in the 1890s. The heritage value of the Old Common Burial Ground lies in its being the first cemetery in Liverpool and the final resting place of many of the community’s earliest settlers. It is also valued for its association with Dr. Henry Farish, who initiated the efforts to reclaim the cemetery after a long period of neglect.
Although the earliest date on a headstone here is 1761, it is known that there were unmarked burials as early as 1759. Even into the nineteenth century some burials were unmarked because relatives could not afford to buy grave markers from New England, the closest source of such commodities for many years after the initial settlement of Liverpool. According to local lore, the first burial here was not of one of the proprietors, but of a Mi’kmaq captain who went by the name of Joseph Quoxies who had earned the settlers’ respect and friendship. It is believed that other native people were buried here in unmarked graves as well. Also buried here is Hallett Collins, who was ten years old when his family came to Liverpool with the other first settlers. Years later he fathered twenty-six children, including Hon. Enos Collins whose vast holdings in Halifax and elsewhere made him one of the wealthiest men in British North America during his lifetime.
After the cemetery was filled to capacity in the late 1890s, it was neglected for many years and became overgrown with briars, shrubs and trees. During the early part of the twentieth century Dr. Henry Farish, a local physician, and other local residents undertook the task of clearing the debris and overgrowth from the burial ground. A fountain was constructed in a low spot near the back of the cemetery sometime around 1910 and in 1921 the “Jutland” memorial was erected near the Main Street entrance, in memory of those who died when the ship sunk in March, 1920. In 1936 a fence was erected surrounding the cemetery on Main, Old Bridge and Church Streets, with funds provided by the Queens County Historical Society, Town Council and private donations.
In more recent years further enhancements have been made to the Old Common Burial Ground including the addition of several interpretive signs which describe some of the kinds of grave markers, brief biographies of some of the people buried there, and some historical notes about the founding and growth of the community of Liverpool. There are also historic photographs of the cemetery displayed, which detail some of the changes in the property over the years.
Source: Municipal heritage property files' "Old Common Burial Ground", Region of Queens, NS.
The character-defining elements of the Old Common Burial Ground include:
- location on Main Street near the central business district;
- lot overlooking the Mersey River;
- mature trees;
- fence surrounding property on three sides;
- large “Jutland” memorial near main entrance;
- pool and fountain near back;
- original grave markers;
- interpretive signs in various areas;
- wrought iron entrance gates and “Old Burial Ground” sign spanning entrance;
- grass-covered plots;
- concrete capped stone retaining wall and concrete steps at front.
Local Governments (NS)
Heritage Property Act
Municipally Registered Property
1759/01/01 to 1898/01/01
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
Municipal Heritage Property files, "Old Common Burial Ground", Region of Queens municipal office, 249 White Point Road, PO Box 1264, Liverpool, NS B0T 1K0.
Cross-Reference to Collection