Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
St. Cecilia Roman Catholic Cemetery is a burial ground located off Route 220, the main highway, at the northwest end of the harbour at St. Lawrence. It is a fenced cemetery with over 600 grave plots and has been in use since the nineteenth century. The muncipal heritage designation encompasses the whole fenced area.
St. Cecilia Roman Catholic Cemetery is significant for its spiritual, historic and aesthetic values.
The cemetery has spiritual and historic values as a consecrated Roman Catholic burial ground in use for over a century. While its earliest extant gravemarker records a death date in 1869, St. Cecilia Cemetery was likely in use before that time. Roman Catholicism was the predominant religion of St. Lawrence’s settler population in the early nineteenth century, and the local parish was officially established in 1849.
St. Cecilia Roman Catholic Cemetery has historic value through its connection to a prominent event in the area’s history when three American navy ships went aground during a storm on
February 18, 1942. 203 crew members of the USS Truxton and USS Pollux were lost, although local residents helped save 186 sailors. The Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation transferred a section of St. Cecilia Cemetery to the United States government for use as a military cemetery. The bodies of 51 shipwrecked sailors were temporarily interred there and then eventually transported to the US after World War II and the US government transferred the cemetery land back to the RC Episcopal Corporation.
St. Cecilia Roman Catholic Cemetery has historic value for its connection to St. Lawrence’s mining industry, which was a major employer and mainstay of the local economy from the 1930s into the 1970s. St. Cecilia and other area cemeteries underscore the sad side of the town’s mining heritage, for there are interred the bodies of some 200 miners whose deaths have been linked to industrial disease contracted in fluorspar mines.
The cemetery has historic value as a physical record of St. Lawrence’s past. Its gravemarkers are inscribed with information pertaining to genealogy, such as familial relationships and dates of birth and death, and local history, including information about tragic events such as shipwrecks.
The cemetery’s gravemarkers have artifactual value due to their materials and designs. While there is at least one instance of limestone, most of the older markers are white marble in tablet or column forms (typical of their age) and most of the newer ones are granite. The designs of many of the markers include religious iconography associated with the Catholic faith. Some of the more recent headstones include soccer motifs, underlying the area’s particular affinity with the sport.
The gravemarkers also contribute to the cemetery’s aesthetic value, along with the array of fencing in wood, masonry, metal or concrete demarcating the boundaries of individual or family grave plots, and the organic way in which the layout of the plots has evolved over the years. A large, erect, concrete crucifix on site marks the cemetery as a Christian one. Together with the grassy cemetery’s prominent, roadside location, these elements make St. Cecilia Roman Catholic Cemetery a distinctive landmark in St. Lawrence.
Source: Motion 05-128, Town of St. Lawrence Town Council meeting of 2006/08/16
All those extant features which contribute to the historic and aesthetic value of the cemetery, including:
-inscriptions and designs of gravemarkers;
-preponderance of marble headstones amongst the older gravemarkers;
-grave plot boundary fencing in wood, concrete, masonry or metal;
-prominent location off main road.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Municipal Heritage Building, Structure or Land
1869/01/01 to 1869/01/01
Theme - Category and Type
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Philosophy and Spirituality
Function - Category and Type
- Religion, Ritual and Funeral
- Religion, Ritual and Funeral
- Mortuary Site, Cemetery or Enclosure
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, 1 Springdale Street, PO Box 5171, St. John's, NL, A1C 5V5
Cross-Reference to Collection