Tag Archives: Funeral

“City of Funerals”


September 15, 1924

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives: VA 157-110; Gerald J. Whitty and William King’s funeral procession, Water Street, St. John’s

The death of six men in the City of St. John’s on (September 15, 1924) cast a gloom over the city. The local newspapers described St. John’s as a “city of funerals.”  The citizens of St. John’s and the province were mourning the loss of  Gerald J. Whitty and fellow veterans who were struck and killed by a speeding car at Donovans  (on the outskirts of the City).

Gerald  J. Whitty as secretary-treasurer  of the  Great War Veterans Association (GWVA)  of Newfoundland  was  known throughout the province for his advocacy work  for the veterans returning to Newfoundland following the Great War.  He helped run the poppy campaign, begun in 1921, and edited the Veteran Magazine. In 1923 he represented the GWVA in London at the first biennial conference of the British Empire Service League.

He was instrumental in improving pensions and the project of a national memorial to honour Newfoundland’s war dead.

On the evening of 15 September, Whitty and 13 companions met in a restaurant at Donovans to bid farewell to a friend who was leaving for England.  At 11:00 p.m., he, William King, another prominent Newfoundland veteran, and Chief Petty Officer Robert Lovett of HMS Constance were standing by the bus that was to take the party back to St John’s. Suddenly, a speeding car appeared and struck the three men. Whitty and William King were killed instantly, as were four occupants of the car.

On 18 September, St John’s became a “city of funerals.” In the afternoon, following the burial of William King in the General Protestant Cemetery, the funeral procession continued to Whitty’s residence.

At the War Memorial  on Water Street that he was instrumental in having established , a short halt was made and wreaths placed. Whitty was buried in Belvedere Cemetery.

At the graveside, Father Thomas Nangle observed that veterans had lost “their best friend and advocate.”

Recommended Archival Collection:  At the Rooms Provincial Archives Division explore VA 157 an album of photographs relating to the experience of Gerald J. Whitty.

Recommended Reading:  William Whitty, Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Melvin Baker and Peter Neary.

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.