Travel Photo Thursday — Mar.6/14– Halifax’s Old Burial Ground

Posted by on Mar 6, 2014 in Canada, Destinations, Featured, Halifax, Travel Photo Thursday | 51 comments

Welcome to another week of Travel Photo Thursday (our 167th). I’m back to classes this week, and with 200+ students, it’s going to be a busy semester. Plus, we seem to have gone back into the deep freeze this week; windy and cold! Last week we visited St. Paul’s Church in Halifax. In case you missed the post, take the peek! 🙂 This week we’re ambling south a few  blocks to Halifax’s Old Burial Ground.

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Halifax's Old Burial Ground. At one time it was St. Paul's Cemetary

Halifax’s Old Burial Ground. At one time it was St. Paul’s Cemetary


Founded in 1749,  the cemetery was originally non-denominational, and the only cemetery in the city. In 1793, St. Paul’s (Anglican) Church took it over, and it remained open to burials until 1844. Some 12,000 people are buried here. Today, only 1,200 headstones and crypts remain. Some headstones have disappeared (disturbing!), and  it was not uncommon to be buried without a headstone. Also, some of  the graves contain more than one body. I found numerous headstones inscribed with more than one name; many of them being children.

The Old Burial Ground is dominated by the Welsford-Parker Monument. The arch  is the second oldest war monument in Canada, and was built to commemorate the Brits victory in the Crimean War (the only one in North America). It is named after two Haligonians, Major Welsford and Captain Parker, who died while fighting in the Crimean War.

Only monument in North America commemorating the Crimean War.

Only monument in North America commemorating the Crimean War.


The oldest headstone dates back to 1752. The day I visited there was no one on duty, and I was unable to find that stone. However, I did find this one dated 1792. I am amazed at how well the engraving has survived!




If you think you have a long lost relative buried here, you just might find them!

You might just find a long lost relative!

You might just find a long lost relative!


A prominent citizen of the city…

Erasmus James Phillips

Headstones from the early 1800s.

Old Burial Ground, 1800s

Old Burial Ground, 1800s


m_More Headstones1800-1551

Crypts at the Old Burial Ground

Crypts at the Old Burial Ground

The final resting place of Major General Robert Ross, who died in a battle where American troops were defeated…(War of 1812-14)

Died on Sept. 12, 1814 in a battle near Baltimore.

Died on Sept. 12, 1814 in a battle near Baltimore.


You can read all about the Major General...

You can read all about the Major General…



The Old Burial Ground remembers the war of 1812-1814…

Here's the answer!

Here’s the answer!

From the Old Burial Ground website…

“On June 1, 1813, USS Chesapeake, Captain James Lawrence, sailed out of Boston harbour to attack HMS Shannon, Captain Philip Broke. Certain of another British defeat, Bostonians anticipating the evening’s victory banquet came out to sea to enjoy the fight. They were shocked to see that only fifteen minutes after the battle began, Chesapeake’s ensign dropped. Up rose the Blue Ensign; below it, the Stars and Stripes appeared. His captain, severely wounded, his first lieutenant killed, it fell to 22 year old Halifax born Provo Wallis, Shannon’s second lieutenant, to command his ship. The third lieutenant, Charles Falkiner, took charge of the Chesapeake, giving special care to Lawrence, who lay in his wardroom, mortally wounded. The two frigates sailed eastward into the gathering darkness as the disappointed sightseers returned to Boston to report the unbelievable news. Chesapeake taken!”

I think it’s amazing that a 22 year old Haligonian saved us from becoming another star on the American flag!

Halifax’s Old Burial Ground is a National Historic site, and the Old Burial Ground Foundation maintains an excellent website….click here. 

Travelers Tip

Location and Hours

Open daily from sunrise to sunset; free to enter


Corner of Spring Garden Road and Barrington St.

Corner of Spring Garden Road and Barrington St.


What are your thoughts on visiting graveyards when you travel? Yay or Nay?


This is the 167th edition of Travel Photo Thursday. You can browse the archives here.


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  1. Oh Nancie, this is so amazing. I wrote a post on a historic cemetery in Maui for this week’s TPT and then bumped it this afternoon for Sevastopol. Great minds as they say. . . But then I see your first two links today are Black Sea posts, more of that blogosphere mojo at work. These photos are beautiful – a lovely look at this cemetery.

    • Hi Jackie! You and I are so often on the same wave length…blogging sister me thinks 🙂

  2. I\’m not usually a fan of cemeteries but this is a beautiful one. It\’s really maintained well and those headstones are all in great condition. Thanks for the very interesting history lesson. Hope it gets warmer for you and good luck with this semester.

    • Hi Mary! Being a heritage site means that it gets looked after. Glad you enjoyed the tour 🙂

  3. Yes, I do visit cemeteries when I’m traveling. They are a great free, historic destination with art and architecture. My children and I have taken tours through cemeteries and enjoyed it. The cemetery in Halifax looks beautiful.

    • Hi Tonya! I’m with you. I never pass up a good cemetery. Sometimes I don’t stay long, but I always enjoy a little wander.

  4. Fascinating – and yes, I often visit graveyards when I’m travellling. It’s amazing how well preserved the stones and the inscriptions are in your photos, and I don’t know about you but I conjure up all sorts of stories and faces when I read the inscriptions!

  5. Hi Jo! Yes, I have quite a vivid imagination when I’m strolling through grave yards. Sometimes I scare myself! The workmanship on the stones really is amazing.

  6. I am also amazed at what good condition that 1792 gravestone is in. Is it possible that it doesn’t date back to that time but is a replacement? I think Boston was the last time I visited a cemetery while traveling. My daughter was so spooked that my hubby had to stand outside the gate with her and wait while our tour took us through it. There’s an old cemetery in Penang that I’ve been meaning to photograph. It used to look creepier and more overgrown, but they’ve recently cleared out some of the brush. Thanks for reminding me to go by.

    • Hi Michele! Definitely not a replacement. I know that there has been restoration over the years, but I think that would have been cleaning the stones (probably), and any stones that had fallen would probably have been put back into place.

  7. Hi Nancie, This is wonderful. Those old tombstones are beautiful and amazing. I like old cemeteries. For some it may be creepy for me it’s like stepping back in history, like visiting a museum. I’m fascinated looking at old tombstone and checking what year they were born and died, and wondering how they lived and how they died. I’m also like checking out the design of the tombstone; there is so much artistry n them. Thanks for taking us on a tour of this cemetery. Stay warm. We’re doing the here in NYC.

    • Hi Marisol! Glad you enjoyed the tour. Cemetaries tell so much about a community!

  8. I really enjoy walking through them, checking out the dates and designs of the markers, but I don’t usually seek them out. Only if I come across one would I wander in. The one you went to had great history though, which I am always a fan of.

    • Hi Sonja. Yes, I loved all the history that is packed into this relatively small space!

  9. I don’t normally visit cemeteries when I travel but as it turns out, I was at one just last week. I think the oldest gravestone we found dated to 1815.

    These headstones are very well preserved. I’m always in awe how well work that was done centuries ago holds up. It always makes me wonder what of ours will remain 300 years from now.

    You’re right – it is amazing that a 22 year old saved Halifax. It seems back then, men were so much more mature.

    • Hi Marcia! Maybe we should send all the modern day men back for a few weeks! 🙂

  10. We both featured graveyards this week!

    • Hi Jackie! Great minds think alike! 🙂

  11. I love to visit cemeteries and in fact would like to take a tour this summer in Calgary where I understand there is someone buried who survived the Titanic sinking.
    I checked out a cemetery in Savannah -and what an eye opening place that was – as you could see how woman were thought of in the 1700’s – merely the mention of a dead wife but no name on many occasions.
    Also did an evening cemetery tour in Annapolis Royal this past summer- fantastic!!

    • Hi Leigh! I would love to do the tour in Annapolis Royal. I’ll add it to my list of things to do the next time I am home. Interesting that someone who survived the Titanic is buried in Calgary. That’s a long way from Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. You’ve probably visited the Titanic graves in Halifax.

  12. Sometimes when we travel, we’ll visit a local cemetery, particularly if it is one in a small community.

    The most interesting one I’ve been to, however, was in Genessee, Idaho. The entry road, lined with trees, split the cemetery in two. The Lutherans were buried on one side, Catholics on the other.

    However, by the time my grandmother died, bifurcated burials were no longer mandatory. She, raised as a Lutheran but who had converted to Catholicism, was interned next to her fourth and final husband, born and raised Catholic.

    • Hi Dick! Four husbands, WOW! 🙂 Nice to know that her final resting place was beside the last one!

  13. Old burial grounds are so interesting — and sometimes very eerie like the one in Salem, Massachusetts I visited. I love reading the stones — some of them tell quite a story.

    • Hi Cathy! I would love to wander through the one in Salem. I passed through Salem on time on the way to Cape Cod, but didn’t see much of the town.

  14. I like Sarah’s plaque, the way the grounds are green and cared for and the fact that they have a list of those buried there. A great way for people to see if they have any relatives there.

    • Hi Jan! It helps a lot that it’s a designated Heritage site. I looked for my relatives, but didn’t find anyone!

  15. This is one of my favorite graveyards. I love looking for stones that have musket ball or hfx explosion dents!

    • Hi Sharlene! It is an interesting place to explore!

  16. First of all, Nancie, congratulations on this being the 167th edition of Travel Photo Thursday. That’s quite a feat to keep it going!

    A very intersting history lesson in this post, making it an enjoyable read. Nice photo series, too. And as you say, that first headstone you show is in amazingly good condition.

    I must say how much I like “Haligonian”. In you live in Sydney or Melbourn (Australia), you’re respectively a “Sydneysider” or a “Melburnian”. I’ve checked online, and found that “Melbournite” — whcih I have heard used, is totally rejected by people from that city!

    • Hi Andrew! Thanks! It’s funny how time flies. I can hardly believe that Travel Photo Thursday has been going this long. I definitely prefer Melburnian to Melbournite. Sydneysider is different! Thanks for dropping by. Don’t be a stranger. 🙂

  17. I enjoyed your article…I have a friend with a blog about cemeteries…he’ll love this!!

    • Hi Marilyn! Thanks for dropping by, and I’m pleased to hear that you liked the article. I hope your friend enjoys it, too!

  18. Old burial grounds always fascinate me. Everywhere I travel to I try to visit at least one cemetery – they tell such interesting tales of the place and its history. Great story.

    • Hi Viv! Thanks for dropping by. Yes, if you want to know the local history a cemetery is a great place to start!

  19. I love old cemetery and burial grounds! I once lived in an 250 year-old farm house in Canterbury NH that had a Revolutionary War aged cemetery on the grounds (maintained by the town). It was really special (although it did creep my kids out from time to time!).

    • Hi Patti! That would be special. When I was a kid I used to go to my friends summer place (the old homestead). It was high on a hill, and we used to take a shortcut through a cemetery to get home from the beach. That was creepy if we were late and the sun was setting!

  20. I love history and cemeteries hold all kinds of interesting historical information. It seems a bit morbid, but if you look at it as a history lesson, there is so much to learn. One of my favorite visits – odd choice of words, I know – was the graveyard in DeSmet, SD where the Ingalls family is buried and in Mansfield, MO where Laura and Almanzo Wilder are buried, alongside their daughter. And we’ve spent quite a bit of time visiting Presidential homes, such as Washington and Lincoln and those cemeteries date back so far!

    • Hi Patti! All of those cemeteries sound like they would be interesting to visit!

  21. We enjoy visiting old graveyards wherever we travel when the opportunity arises. They really give you insight into the history of a place.

    Lovely pics! Thx for posting.

    • Hi Doreen! There’s always a history lesson to be had in a graveyard! 🙂

  22. I love old cemeteries. They offer so much interesting history. I could spend many hours wandering here. I loved your photos.

    • Hi Nancy! Thanks for dropping by. I’m glad you like the photos.

  23. Interesting history in this cemetery. Like some of the other commenters, I am surprised by how good of shape some of the old headstones are in.

    • Hi Donna! It is a Heritage site, so they have had their share of funding over the years. I’m sure some of that has gone to cleaning/maintaining the headstones. However, there was a time when it looked quite derelict, and if I remember correctly, a favorite place of homeless people to sleep. These days, it’s locked at night.

  24. It is interesting to visit cemeteries in other countries and learn a bit about their culture.

    • Hi Irene! Cemeteries tell a lot of stories, for sure!

  25. I love history and this is a treasure trove of so many lives ready to tell their story. I noticed one grave stone had some flowers laid there. Any idea why?

  26. I always make it a point to visit old graveyards—-especially in New England. The last time I was in Boston, I visited a graveyard where one of the people buried there was born in the 16th century — that’s about as old as you’ll find in English North America. I like trying to figure out the family histories of those buried there. In one Cape Cod cemetery, I found a 18th century guy who was buried with his 3 wives—the first two of whom might have died in childbirth based on their ages.
    PS: Since I’ve met you and I know you’re a very nice person, I’ll ignore your remark about having been “saved” from Halifax being a star on the American flag 😉

    • Hi Suzanne…Both New England and Nova Scotia “have” a lot of history. I’m sure back then that a lot of men remarried because they lost wives in childbirth…sad.

      HaHa, I was wondering who you be the first to comment on my somewhat “anti-American” sounding comment. Trust me, I quite like America, I know some lovely Americans (like you), but I still like being a Canadian 🙂 (I hope you can seem the twinkle in my eye as I type this comment, and hear my laughter!) 🙂

  27. Nancie,
    Interesting post. I love old architecture regardless of the genre. I was taken back by the line you stated that a grave might have more than one’s remains. That is a little out there IMHO. By the way when I tried to “follow” you on Google+ it took me to Google+ not your page. Also the Twitter address blank above would not let me copy and paste the link. I had to type it. Just FYI’s. Safe Travels.

    • Hi Mike,

      Thanks for letting me know about the buttons. I’ve checked them out and I think I have them working again. I find those things have minds of their own.

      It’s true some of the graves do contain more than one corpse. I read numerous head stones with more than one name. Looks like children were often buried with a parent. Strange but true!

      Thanks for stopping by! 🙂


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