Pioneer Cemetery restoration celebrated

Published on September 29, 2013

NEW GLASGOW - A restored piece of Scottish settler history was unveiled on Saturday.

Thousands of dollars from donations and various historical organizations went into the project to fix the Pioneer Cemetery on Stewart Street.

All of that work was recognized Sept. 28.

“The cemetery was in a terrible state. The stones had deteriorated and fallen over,” said Lynn MacLean with the Heritage Committee.

MacLean played a huge role in the restoration project.

She has personal ties to the burial grounds in New Glasgow and has been looking for the resting place of her relative, Sophia Fraser, for several years.

Almost 25 years ago, her sister told her that Fraser’s gravestone was at what is now Pioneer Cemetery.

She went to look at it and discovered after much research, it wasn’t actually her ancestor.

MacLean learned that the Sophia Fraser buried there had been a Ship Hector passenger.

Even though it wasn’t who she was looking for, Fraser and the cemetery peaked MacLean’s interest.

She began leading nighttime walking tours of the cemetery with a few other women. They would tell stories of the people buried there and sing songs for the hour-long spectacle.

“Everyone would say, ‘I didn’t know this place was here’,” she said.

Now, it’s well maintained and easily accessible with a key from the library or the police station.

Approximately 80 people lie at rest in the cemetery, with at least eight Hector passengers. It’s also one of the oldest graveyards in the area with the oldest burial dating back to the 1700’s.

MacLean has been a part of the project for the entire process and was very pleased to see it finally finished.

“It’s nice to start and complete a project.”

Jane Williams was also pleased to see the restoration done.

She is a descendent of the Carmichael family, one of the founders of New Glasgow, and the McKay family. Both clans have people buried in the historical cemetery.

“It’s important to me personally because it gives me an opportunity to visit my ancestors and celebrate their contribution to the town of New Glasgow,” said Williams.

An interpretive panel addressing families in the Pioneer Cemetery was also introduced at the ceremony.

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