Tag Archives: Belvedere

“The gravestones of the deceased are daily violated”

Archival Moment

July 4, 1848

Entrance to Belvedere Cemetery, St. John's.

Entrance to Belvedere Cemetery, St. John’s.

It was on July 4, 1848 that many of the citizens of the town of St. John’s were walking to the “outskirts of the town” to witness the blessing of new cemetery for the Roman Catholics.  Many attending the service were unhappy that their loved one’s would be interred so far out in the country.

Bishop John Thomas Mullock, the Catholic Bishop of Newfoundland wrote in his diary on July 4, 1848:

“Consecrated the cemetery at Belvedere … multitude present. High Mass afterwards in the Mortuary Chapel of All Saints.”

The leaders of all the churches in St. John’s had been given notice that the local government  was not happy with internments in the town of St. John’s and that they would have to seek burial ground further away from the livyers.

Up until 1849 all burials for all denominations were made in the town’s cemeteries. The Roman Catholic’s buried their dead in the Long’s Hill Cemetery located near what is now the site of the parking lot of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church (The Kirk). The Church of England Cemetery was in the church yard of the Anglican Cathedral of St. John the Baptist which borders on Duckworth Street, Church Hill, Cathedral Street and Gower Street.  The Wesleyan Cemetery was on the corner of Gower Street and Queen’s Road.

Discontent about the state of cemeteries within the boundary of the town of St. John’s began to surface shortly after the great fire of June 1846.

One of the effects of the Great Fire was reported in the Journal of the House of Assembly on July 14, 1846. The report stated:

 “Troops of starving dogs, infesting the town have become dangerous as well as to the living as to the dead; they have commenced desecrating the tombs of the cemetery …. And may be seen gnawing the bones of those who have been buried …. Pigs and goats infest in great numbers …. And the gravestones and monuments of the deceased are daily violated.”

One of the results of the Great Fire of 1846 was that all fencing and enclosures for farm animals had been destroyed by the fire allowing the farm animals including the goats and pigs to wonder about the town. Their favorite place to feed and graze was in the ‘downtown’ cemeteries.

On July 15, 1849 a Proclamation was issued by Governor, Sir J. Gaspard LeMarchant “forbidding any more burials within the city limits.”  The Governor was responding to the fears of town residents that epidemics such as cholera and typhus were resulting from the internment of the dead in the town. The argument was that as bodies of the newly interred decomposed in the town cemeteries, their diseases were seeping into the wells that were the source of the water supply for town.

Governor, Sir J, Gaspard LeMarchant argued:

 “as a very obvious method of improving the sanitary conditions of this town, I recommend having an act passed prohibiting  any internments in the limits of this town…. “

To get some indication as to how St. John’s has grown one only has to consider that the Belvedere property that our ancestors were walking to for the blessing of the cemetery in 1849  is now known as Belvedere Cemetery and is located between Bonaventure Avenue and Newtown Road.

It is no longer on the “outskirts of the town” no longer “in the country”.

There has been a long established tradition in  Newfoundland and Labrador  whereby families continue to attend to the cemetery plots of their loved one’s.   Typically a few days before the annual flower or liturgical service families  would gather to clean the  family plot.

2019 St. John’s and Area Cemetery Schedule

For flower services and or Liturgical Services.

Mount Pleasant Cemetery           Monday July 8th                 7:00pm

Mount Carmel Cemetery              Tuesday July 9th                 7:00pm

Kenmount Road Cemetery           Wednesday July 10th         7:00pm

Belvedere Cemetery                     Tuesday July 16 th            7:00pm

 Forest Road Cemetery                 Wednesday July 17th         7:30pm

St. Joseph’s Cemetery                   Thursday July 18th             7:00pm 
Petty Harbour

 General Protestant Cemetery     Monday July 22                7:00pm

Holy Sepulcher Cemetery             Tuesday July 23                  7:00pm

St. Kevin’s Cemetery                     Thursday July 25th         7:00pm
The Goulds

Recommended Archival Collection:  All of the churches have established archives that hold detailed records that will help you locate the grave site of a loved one buried in the cemeteries in this province

Cemeteries in St. John’s


July 3, 1859

Angel writing in the book of life.

Angel writing in the book of life.

On July 3, 1859  Bishop John Thomas Mullock, the Catholic Bishop of Newfoundland consecrated Mount Carmel Cemetery, located near Quidi Vidi Lake. Bishop Mullock wrote in his diary on this day:

“ Today I consecrated the cemetery at Quidi Vidi. Thousands were present. The weather awfully hot.  Temperature 84 degrees in the shade.”

All churches at the time had their eye on land “on the outskirts of the town  that could be developed into cemeteries.

In July 1849 Bishop Michael Anthony Fleming purchased ten acres of land adjoining John Dowsley’s property on the road to Bally Haly Farm, at the top of Kennas Hill, for the purpose of a cemetery. He joined the two lots and made one large burial ground known as Mount Carmel Cemetery.

Tradition has it that Mount Carmel was “the fishermen’s cemetery” as opposed to Belvedere Cemetery (on Bonaventure Ave. and Newtown Road). Belvedere was traditionally seen as the cemetery for the more well to do citizens and only “available to those that purchased sites.”

Up to the year 1849 all burials for all denominations were made in the town’s cemeteries.  The Roman Catholic’s buried their dead in the Long’s Hill Cemetery located on what is now the site near the parking lot of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church (The Kirk), on Long’s Hill, St. John’s.

Unfortunately the internments records for the Long’s Hill Cemetery were lost in the Great Fire 1846.

The Church of England Cemetery  was in the church yard of the Anglican Cathedral of St. John the Baptist which borders on Duckworth Street, Church Hill, Cathedral Street and Gower Street. It is estimated that there are about 6000 people buried there.

The Wesleyan Cemetery was on the corner of Gower and Queen’s Road.

Many of the internment records for Mount Carmel cemetery – ‘the fishermen’s cemetery’ have survived – some were lost or damaged but in the 1980’s the cemetery was reconstructed using information recorded on the headstones that were erected by individual families.

Today Mount Carmel cemetery is closed to internments, with some exceptions being made for families with existing plots.



Recommended Archival Collection:  All of the churches have established archives that hold detailed records that will help you locate the grave site of a loved one buried in the cemeteries in this province.

Wrapped in prayer to the end


5 December, 1893

Bishop Thomas Power died on December 4, 1893.

The population of the Colony of Newfoundland was informed through the pages of the local newspapers (December 5, 1893) that Bishop Thomas Joseph Power, 23 years Roman Catholic Bishop of St. John’shad died.

The St. John’s newspaper, The Evening Herald reported:

 “The Bishop’s death  (December 4, 1893) has been a sudden shock.  In apparent good health on Saturday, he is lying cold and silent in death on Monday evening.  A sharp attack of pneumonia brought on the end.”

Power’s significance lies almost entirely in the ecclesiastical field.

In 1875 the bishop brought the Irish Christian Brothers to Newfoundlandand placed them in charge of St Bonaventure’s College and the schools of the Benevolent Irish Society. Under his episcopate the religious congregations of the Sisters of Mercy and Presentation Sisters expanded and were introduced to parishes outside St John’s. During his episcopate the cathedral (now a Basilica) in St John’s, the demonstrable presence of Roman Catholicism in the island, was renovated; a monastery for the Christian Brothers, Mount St Francis, erected; and two orphanages, Belvedere for girls and Villa Nova for boys, as well as many churches and schools, built.

The Evening Herald report on the death of Bishop Power concluded:

Having received holy Viaticum, Bishop Power extended his hand and bade goodbye to his confessor, Reverend J. Walsh of Portugal Cove.  He then closed his eyes and remained wrapped in prayer to the end.  For hours the nuns, brothers, and priests knelt by his bedside, sprinkling his couch with blessed water and reciting the rosaries and litanies for the departing soul.  At last, after a long interval, came the final respiration, and even as the prayers of the Sisters, “Jesus, Mary and Joseph” – were softly whispered in his ear, just as the hand of Father John Scott was raised in the last Absolution, a heavenly calm came over his features and the spark of life slowly went out and the soul of Thomas Joseph, Sixth Bishop of St. John’s, was safe  in the arms of his Heavenly Master.

(They just don’t write obitituaries like that any more!)

Bishop Power might however not be happy with his place of burial. He was buried in the crypt under the altar of the Basilica Cathedral.  It was his stated wish that:

 “my body be buried in St. Patrick’s Church, River Head  (Patrick Street) in front of the Convent Choir & opposite a side altar to be erected in honor of the great Patriarch St. Joseph.”

 Recommended Archival Collection: Archives of the R.C. Archdiocese ofSt. John’s.

Dictionary of Canadian Biography:  http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?BioId=40496

Mercy Sisters Open Their First School in the New World


May 1, 1843

Mercy Convent, Military Road, St. John's, NL.

The Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy was founded in Dublin, Ireland by Catherine McAuley on December 12, 1831.

At the request of Bishop Michael Anthony Fleming of St. John’s, Newfoundland three Irish women Frances Creedon, Ursula Frayne, and Rose Lynch began their Atlantic crossing on the Sir Walter Scott to begin working as missionaries in Newfoundland.

They arrived in St. John’s on June 3, 1842. With no convent ready they  took accommodations at Belvedere, Bishop Fleming’s residence.  (The street is now known as Margaret’s Place – off Newtown Road. Belvedere is the buidling  nearest to the MCP Building that was  the old  Belvedere Orphanage.)

During the first eleven months of the new mission, the Sisters of Mercy visited the sick and the poor in their homes. On December 12, 1842, the Sisters moved from their temporary home to their new convent on Military Road. This was the first Mercy Convent in the New World.

On May 1, 1843, Our Lady of Mercy School, Military Road, was formally opened. From this nucleus, other convents were opened throughout the province.

Through the years the Sisters of Mercy were engaged primarily in the teaching and nursing professions. In recent years their main focus has been in Pastoral Ministries in various localities in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador and in Peru.

Recommended Reading: “Weavers of the Tapestry”, Kathrine Bellamy’s, RSM -St. John’s, NL.  Flanker Press Limited   2006

 Recommended Web Site: http://www.sistersofmercynf.org/