Where are the city folk buried? A day trip to the big city of Saint John with Gram and Gramp always got a young Ruby wondering...
As a child, a trip to Saint John was as exciting to me as a trip to Toronto would be to the kids of today.
Once a week, Gramp got up early and took the cream cans from the well-house and placed them in the trunk of his shiny 1936 Oldsmobile. The car was a real show piece with lots of nickel on the bumpers and trim. Gram usually went with him on this trip.
Since Mum said it was not polite to ask to go places with someone, I had to wait to be invited. Unknown to Mum, I would throw little hints about my desire to go with them. It worked! Quite often I was invited to go along.
Attired in my best dress with patent leather shoes on my feet and a bow in my hair, I would climb into the back of the Olds. I knew we were nearing town when I could smell the smoke from the burning of coal.
My eyes were glued to the sights of the approaching city. We passed the One Mile House, Haymarket Square and then drove along City Road to General Dairies, on what is now Station Street. While the cream cans were being removed from the trunk, I admired the big hooves of the horses that pulled the milk wagons. The shoes on their feet did not look like any horse shoes that I had ever seen. They appeared to me to be made of rubber.
Once we started up the Garden Street hill, I knew we would soon be uptown. I loved King's Square, and best of all, there were pigeons to feed.
Store-bought meals were a rarity for a country kid, so Robbins Tea Room seemed liked the fanciest restaurant in the world.
City people did things so differently from country folks. There were stores that sold only bread, rolls and pies. Did the mothers not bake this pastry in their kitchens? The boys didn't wear overalls or gum rubbers.
But what puzzled me most of all was the graveyard right across the street from King's Square. On all of my trips to town, not once did I see a newly dug grave or mounds of flowers to mark a recent burial. Where did people who lived uptown get buried?
Many years later I found out that the Loyalist Burial Ground had been closed to burials in 1848. It had been in use from shortly after the arrival of the Loyalists in 1783.
An undated newspaper article entitled "Record Made of Graves in Old Burial Ground" is in scrapbook number 89 at the Saint John Free Public Libray. W. L. Allan of the Fire Department had compiled this list for Commissioner Harding. There were 401 monuments in the Burial Ground at that time.
The 1961 collections of the New Brunswick Historical Society book number 16 has a very informative article on "The Old Burying Ground" by C. McN. Steeves.
Graeme Sommerville compiled an alphabetized list of 2,696 names from a hand-written record of 97 pages entitled "Return of Burials in the City Burying Ground from 2nd July 1839 to Nov. 1847." His second alphabetized list of 658 names is from the "Monumental Inscriptions" in J.W. Lawrence's 1883 book "Loyalist Souvenir." Mr. Sommerville estimates that 12,000 burials could have taken place in the Loyalist Burial Ground. Mr. Sommerville's book, "Some Burial Records of the Loyalist Burial Ground, Saint John, N.B.," is in the reference department at the Saint John Free Public Library.
Queries have been grouped together to cover the year 1998 and can be viewed at Queries-1998
Ruby Cusack is a genealogy buff living in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. Readers are invited to send their New Brunswick genealogical queries to Ruby at email@example.com. When E-Mailing please put Yesteryear Families in the Subject line. Please include in the query, your name and postal address as someone reading the newspaper, may have information to share with you but not have access to E-mail. Queries should be no more than 45 words in length.
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