NEW GLASGOW – As far as prime real estate goes, it’s a beautiful piece of land overlooking the East River.
That’s Clyde Macdonald’s assessment of New Glasgow’s Pioneer Cemetery, though he knows its historical value make the site a priceless piece of the county’s past.
Macdonald, along with Clyde Fraser, New Glasgow town councillor and heritage committee chair, hope that a reprise of Canada's East Coast Navy band will keep the restoration of the cemetery going strong.
The Stadacona Band, comprised of 35 professional musicians from across Canada, will perform at Glasgow Square on May 14 at 7 p.m. All proceeds will go toward efforts to restore the cemetery.
The cemetery, located along the Pioneer Trail near the end of Stewart Street, is the resting place for around 80 merchants, community leaders and settlers of the area. At least 12 were passengers who’d been aboard the Ship Hector when it landed in Pictou County in 1773.
The Town of New Glasgow earmarked the site as historically important, forming a restoration plan jointly with the Riverside Cemetery Co. and a sub-committee of which Macdonald is chair.
Through various fundraising efforts, the committee was able to achieve its three goals: to restore headstones, the construction of a steel gate and an interpretive panel with info on the cemetery.
“Our next priority is signage, and a good portion of the proceeds will be dedicated to that,” said Macdonald. “We want people to know how to find the site.”
Fraser noted that Heritage Committee member Lynn MacLean had got the ball rolling with informative tours of the cemetery.
“We continue our efforts because the Town of New Glasgow has designated Pioneer Cemetery a heritage site,” he said. “It’s valued as a critical part of our heritage.”
Town employees, including Kim Dickson, Cheryl Young and Carlton Munroe, have been crucial in getting the Stadacona Band back to New Glasgow, the second time in two years.
“Last year’s concert was a sellout with close to 250 people in attendance,” said Macdonald. “Some walked out saying it had been the best concert they’d ever seen.”
Rev. James MacGregor, the first Presbyterian minister in Pictou County and education visionary in the Maritimes, is buried at the cemetery. MacGregor’s descendants include a Canadian senator, MLA and lieutenant governor of Nova Scotia.
The Town of New Glasgow recognized the site in 2005’s strategic plan, which laid out plans to assess, stabilize and protect the cemetery. Communities in Bloom, the Pictou County Historical Society and The Pictou County Roots Society have also been contributors to the restorative efforts.
While the gate to the Pioneer Cemetery is kept locked, keys are available to the general public through the New Glasgow Regional Police Department and New Glasgow Library.
The Stadacona Band will be performing on May 14 at Glasgow Square Theatre at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door and can be obtained at the Glasgow Square box office or by contacting Clyde Macdonald or Clyde Fraser.
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