In Lorne Callbeck's "My Island, My People", published in 1979 he mentions
this cemetery on page 99. He states, in part;

"The Cemetery and the Hill Gallows Hill, which is that block of Euston
Street between University Avenue and Prince Street, and the Old Protestant
Cemetery on University Avenue, in the same neighbourhood, are historic sites of
considerable interest and renown in Charlottetown.

The ancient cemetery [Old Protestant Cemetery], partly concealed from the
idle view of pedestrians...was the second plot of ground to be consecrated for
the reception of dead "Protestants" of the city and its environs. It was
preceeded by one that lay somewhere within the block contained by Pownal,
Richmond, Queen, and Grafton Streets.

The location of the first cemetery is not known. It was abandoned when the
one we are concerned with in this story was opened. Later generations erected
barns and warehouses and paved a parking lot, under whose wood or asphalt an
unknown number of early Charlottetown residents are quietly sleeping,
undisturbed by the hustle and bustle above them."

Page 100: "It is not known when this ground [Old Protestant Cemetery] was
set apart for interment. In the year 1789, John and Terence Webster had a grant
of lot 24 of the Charlottetown Common of which this land would form a part, if
not reserved. It was not until the 12th of October, 1826, that the cemetery was
granted, by Royal instructions, to the rector and church wardens of the
Charlotte parish."




The old Protestant cemetery on Elm Avenue is the ground referred to in the
following report of a select committee submitted to the Legislative Assembly on
March 31, 1830:

"Your committee to whom was referred the petition of a number of the
inhabitants of Charlottetown and its vicinity, relative to an exclusive right
claimed by the Church of England to the Public Burying Ground, beg leave to
report, that they made a careful examination at the Registry Office, and found
that in October, 1826, there was a grant made by the Hon. President Wright to
the Episcopal Minister and Church Warden of the Parish of Charlottetown, and
their successors in office, of the land formerly reserved as a Public Burying
Ground, and which has been indiscriminately used as such, for upwards of half a
century; that there appears to have been a petition from the present Rector,
the then Church Wardens, and fifteen other individuals, presented to the Bishop
of Nova Scotia, to have the said Burying Ground consecrated; that in compliance
therewith his Lordship did then perform the ceremony in due form, which with
the petition is recorded along with the said grant. Whether such grant or
consecration can really invalidate the rights and claims of other denominations
is a problem which your committee cannot take upon themselves to solve."

The House having taken the above report into consideration, it was
thereupon, on motion of Mr. Lewellin, resolved unanimously: "That no religious
rite or ceremony can invalidate rights acquired by prescription, and usages
uninterruptedly continued for so long a period, under the immediate cognizance
of the Executive Government."


"A movement is on foot for the purpose of taking suitable provision for the
decent care of the old burying ground (on Elm Avenue). It is proposed to build
a house near the ground, and to place a watchman in the same. It is said that
the grounds have become a rendezvous for loafers and others of questionable
fame, that the iron railings have been sold for old iron, and the graves have
been in various ways descecrated. It is nearly time that something was done in
the matter."

....the Examiner, Aug 7, 1882.

Trustees of Old Elm Ave Cemetery Meet January 28, 1955

The annual meeting of the Trustees of the Old Protestant Cemetery on Elm
Ave, was held yesterday. Mr W.A Stewart, chaiman, presided, and the business of
the past year was considered.

The iron fences around several of the plots have been removed, which adds
greatly to the appearance of these plots, since the fences were in a very
delapitated condition.

Since it was found upon inquiry that the Historic Sites and Monuments Board
of Canada do not place plaques in cemeteries, a wooden sign has been placed
near the entrance gate, which reads as follows, as taken from early records.
"By Royal instructions the site of the cemetery on what is now Elm Avenue was
granted to the Rector and Wardens of Charlotte Parish in the reign of George IV
on October 12th 1826 as a burial. In the deed, which was registered on the same
date, it is stated "This parcel of land had long been used as a burial ground."

The treasurer in his report states that all bills have been paid, with a
balance still in funds, but that during the year this amount will have been
more than exhausted, since income does not cover yearly upkeep.

The upkeep of this old cemetery is made possible by annual contributions
from the protestant churches of the city. To cover necessary upkeep it is
suggested that these annual contributions might be increased so that the
trustees would have sufficient income to meet necessary expenditures. Each
contributing church is entitled to have a representative as a member of this
trustee board.

Old Protestant Cemetery, Elm Avenue

This valuable survey was made during the summer of 1947 by Miss Elsie J.
Cambridge of Woodstock, Vermont, U.S.A., who is a direct descendant of Colonel
John Hamilton Gray, of Charlottetown, who was a Father of Confederation.
The survey was published in the Guardians of 4th October, 25th October, 1stNovember, 8th November, 13th November, 21st November, 29th November, 6thDecember, 20th December, 27th December 1947, and 3rd and 17th January, 1948.
T.E. MacNutt

Historic P.E.I. Cemetery and its Monuments

Detailed list of Stones and Inscriptions in Old Protestant Cemetery, ElmAve, Charlottetown, of interest to Islanders at Home and Abroad.
Note of Explanation; In order to facilitate the findings of stones ormonuments they have been listed in "rows", and each has been given a number.The "rows" are by no means always straight and there are many gaps betweenstones. All rows run from left to right as one faces Elm Avenue. The stones onthe left-hand side of the cemetery are listed first, the first row being theone nearest Elm Ave. In the case of each stone or memorial there is a note ofits type (slab) (upright), flat stone, shaft, sacrophagus, etc. and itsphysical condition. All stones are intact, in no need of repairs or levelling,and with good clear lettering.


All who have ever written an article or chapter in a book about this oldCharlottetown Cemetery have stated the obvious - it's historic importance.Charlottetown had a romantic past. In a very appealing minature setting sheknew Colonial glories and hardships. One hopes - one hopes very much - thatsome time soon the present-day Charlottetown will become aware of ignoredromance and revive it, for the cultural profit of her own citizens and thedelectation of those tourists from the newer portions of Canada and the UnitedStates who come here hungry for the old. Especially in these days when nothingabout our civilization seems sure does the past appeal. One wishes that PrinceEdward Island might be a Bermuda of the north, where tourists would not rushfrom one end of the Island to the other, but linger.
One reads the history of old Charlottetown. True, it was a small stage, butnever was the play a dull one. This was and is still a kingdom isle, with royaltouches. Then one goes to the old cemetery on Elm Road, the most peaceful spotin all Charlottetown, and here history becomes alive. For here intimate contactis made with many of the men and women who shaped the fortunes of Canada'ssmallest capital city. They actually did live, and here they rest. Above themin mant cases are finely carved stones, of material and workmanship soexcellent that in almost one hundred and fifty years not a letter has faded.Here in a few lines are summed up the efforts of a lifetime. Often a Scripturalquotation, touching in its boundless faith, closes the little record.
At first glance one is reassured by the general appearance of the cemetery.It is surrounded by a tall fence, in excellent condition, the grass, obviously,is kept cut, and the great trees throw engaging shadows. The broad road, whichdivides the cemetery into two equal fields, shows recent grading. But closerinspection reveals certain conditions which prove distressing to those whobelieve in the sactity of the dead and the desirability of keeping inviolatetheir last resting place. Undoubtedly, this cemetery has known the twin evilsof vandalism and neglect. Many evidences of both are still painfully apparent.
Chiefly to be deplored are the following: badly leaning monument shafts; aconsiderable number of once wantonly smashed slabs which have been "repaired"in a quite unseemly manner - in such a manner, often, as to amount to a furtherdesecration; several fine sarcophagi which are lying literally in heaps; and,here and there, such debris as the utterly useless remains of old iron fencesand the broken stone posts which once guarded family plots. These fourunfortunate features ruin the first favorable impression.
One understands something of the financial difficulties incurred in theupkeep of this cemetery, and all those interested have reason to be grateful tothose churches in Charlottetown which each year contribute sufficient to engagea caretaker and at least keep the grass cut. One is also grateful to those whocontributed special amounts so that the fence, so much needed, might be built.Certainly, it does not seem that any further burden involved in the proper careof this cemetery should fall upon the churches. Other means should be found forpaying for needed restoration work. Surely efforts should be made to enlist theinterest of descendants of those buried here - of which there are many, andmany not far away - and of those who have a general interest in preserving whatis of historic value in the Island and especially in Charlottetown.
Before attempting to discuss, in some detail, the present condition of thestones and monuments, the writer would like to refer to the problem created bythoughtless children of the neighberhood, who make a practice of throwing allkinds of waste materials over the fence - empty tin cans, parcels of garbage,bottles of every kind, old pots and pans and discarded galvanized ironwash-tubs. Could not a lady with a sympathetic interest in these"underprivileged" children (for they are that) call at the homes bordering thecemetery grounds and try to enlist the friendly interest of the parents? Itcould do no harm. It is said the children are Roman Catholics. If so, why notbring the problem to the attention of the parish priest and ask him to make anannouncement?
At present the ground of much of the cemetery is strewn with broken glass,to such an extent that one wearing thin shoes must step with care in manyplaces. It need not remain there, however. Could not a troop, or several troopsof Boy Scouts wage a campaign some afternoon, and in well-organized bands, withspecific areas to cover and plenty of receptacles, clear the cemetery of atleast the major portion of this dangerous debris? No doubt the newspapers wouldfeature it.
There is also the problem of how to make the cemetery accessible to thosewho should be encouraged to go there. At present there is a great gate,difficult to open because it is necessary first to undo a heavy piece of wire.Formerly, it is said, there was a padlock, but this was stolen. The casualvisitor, on finding the gate tied, might assume he or she was not welcome.Surely there should be a small gate also. Could not something be worked out onthis basis, that a small gate would be kept unlocked between the hours of say10:30 a.m. and sunset, each day during the months of June, July, August andSeptember, and that there should be a small group of volunteer workers, whowould agree each to give half a day once a week to being "on duty" at thecemetery, just to keep watch on conditions? Some benches could be placed alongthe center road, and there is no better place to enjoy a book on a hot summerday than in this quiet place. One has other visions for the old cemetery -flowering shrubs, and some day better turf, but these can wait.
Charlottetown, and the whole Island for that matter, is badly in need of aconcise, inexpensive but comprehensive guide book to the points of historicinterests. Naturally, note should be made in any such booklet of the OLDPROTESTANT CEMETERY, and surely it should have a permanent "marker".
And now for statistics - the hard facts necessary to an understanding of theexact nature and extent of the problem. The accompanying report lists everystone in the cemetery, with its names and dates, and includes a note of itscondition. The following pages give an analysis of what is contained in thereport. It is hoped that by these means the situation will be reasonablyclear.

The following letter has a handwritten note in the upper-right hand corner,"for George S. MacDonald, Alderman 14 May 1979"
Elm Avenue Cemetery

Burials in the old Elm Avenue Cemetery had begun by 1789 with the oldeststone being that of Isabella, 24-year old wife of George Bell, who died in thatyear. The cemetery was in continuous use for almost a century afterward untilit was closed by law in 1874.
By 1882, this ancient cemetery was already in difficulty as reported by thenewspaper the Examiner which claimed:

It is said that the grounds have become a rendezvous
forloafers and others of questionable fame...and
the graves have been invarious ways desecrated. It
is nearly time that something was done in thematter."

Indeed, in 1899 a human skull was found outside the cemetery fence.
By 1917, the Trustees of St Pauls Church were deeply concerned and had thecemetery re-surveyed with a view to beginning repair. They managed to raise$1800. from the citizens of Charlottetown for this purpose. But by 1947 whenElsie Cambridge, a descendant of John Hamilton Gray visited the resting placeof her ancestors, she had reason to be shocked by evidence of vandalism andneglect.
As recently as the summer of 1978, a Young Canada Works project attempted toclean up and repair the cemetery, but already vandals have disminished much ofwhat was accomplished.
The essential problem of the Elm Avenue Cemetery seems to be the"fits-and'starts" approach which has been taken to its maintenance. It getspicked up and put down about every fifty years with much damage in betweentimes.
The Elm Avenue Cemetery is historic for all of P.E.I. but more especiallyfor Charlottetown. It is about time that this sacred and historic spot wasprotected once and for all time by concerned citizens and their municipalrepresentatives.
-Proper lighting
-Regular policing
-Probably NOT fencing- it only tempts or provokes vandals to greater efforts,in the past, the fencing itself has been a target for vandals

NOTE: The following 1979 letter is an attempt to restore the old cemeteryand was not that long ago, if anyone has any information, I would like to knowwhat happened and speak with anyone connected to the endeavor. Notice that the"Board of Trustee's" not that long ago, had no problem with the OPC name!
June 6, 1979
University Ave, Charlottetown, PEI.
W.C.Auld, Chairman, Board of Trustees
Gerald C.Proctor, Secretary-Treasurer
S.Grafton St.
Mrs. Catherine Hennessey
Executive Director
PEI Heritage Foundation, Beaconsfield
2 Kent Street, Charlottetown, PEI
Dear Mrs. Hennessey:
The Trustee Board of the Old Protestant Cemetery invites you and your familyto join us at a Memorial Service to be held in the cemetery on UniversityAvenue on Sunday, June 24, 1979 at 3 P.M.
For a long time, many citizens of Charlottetown have been anxious to see therestoration of this cemetery and to give recognition to some eight hundred andsix pioneer settlers who are buried in this historical and once beautifulburying ground.
We in this generation owe a great deal to those who have given so much;Fathers of Confederation, govenors, judges consuls, soldiers, sailors, civilservants, clergy, doctors and church builders.
This memorial service, which is being planned as an annual event, will bethe means of showing our respect to those who have made the sacrifice for us.We believe, that through your interest, we can see it restored to its pastdignity in our community.
We hope you will be with us on this occasion and occupy one of the seatsreserved for you. An offering will be taken during the service to be used forimprovements to the cemetery.
Chairman Trustee Board

NEW!! This will lead you to a lengthy newspaper article on the early "ANGLICAN CHURCH" written when Jimmy Carter was runningfor President.
I invite you to step back in time, to attend the Old Protestant Cemetery "Memorial Service" held June 23, 1979.
Please share your comments, e-mail to: "bobbynorthlake@cs.com"

Return to Top!

Return to: MacLaren's of Greenwich PEI