Where They Rest

The arrival of settler families to the backwoods of Ontario brought about the need for a place of worship. Of equal importance, was a need for a cemetery in which the departed could be laid to rest. New townships were quickly surveyed. Sometimes families began to establish their homesteads before the land was properly surveyed.

Pioneer homestead

In the earliest of years there were no graveyards available in these new settlements. This brought about many burials on the “home farm”.  Today we hear old family tales of ancestors who were buried on their land, often with no formal tablet marking their resting place.

As settlements progressed, families desired a church where the community members could join together to share their faith. Sometimes there was a need for a cemetery before the church was even constructed. The unexpected and early demise of pioneer settlers led to the establishment of a cemetery. Shortly thereafter a church would be erected. Often it was nearby or even on the same property as the cemetery.

Some families could not afford the cost of a cemetery burial. Sometimes the harsh winter weather made it impossible to travel across miles of primitive woodland trails. Families could not bring the remains of their loved one from their remote homestead farm to the nearest burial ground.

As villages reached the size of towns, the growing community naturally required larger churches. Problems soon existed with small churchyard cemeteries being filled to capacity.

Early Pioneer Cemetery

Or their proximity inside the town boundaries became a health concern. This led to newer and larger burial grounds being organized. Often these were located on land outside the town limits of the day. These new grounds might well be shared amongst various religious denominations which resulted in the burial location being called a Union Cemetery.

As communities grew and changed, some smaller rural churches and cemeteries fell into disuse. As small old, churches gradually lost members to attend services, there would be no one left to care for the burial grounds. Thus it might become abandoned. In more recent years, the townships have taken up responsibility for maintenance and care of these old pioneer cemeteries. In the course of time, old church buildings fell into disrepair. In time they might be moved to some other site or the old building might be torn down. On the following pages are listings of the cemeteries located in the townships of the counties of this region of Ontario, known as the Kawarthas.