Thursday, July 22, 2010

Brontë Pioneer Cemetery, Village of Brontë, Town of Oakville, Ontario

In the midst of a quiet residential neighbourhood in Brontë Ontario sits the Brontë Pioneer Cemetery. Many of the stones are damaged, and some are illegible, but here they stand as the world of lawnmowers, leaf blowers, and basketball games goes on around them.

In 1830, Philip Sovereign deeded this land on the east corner of his farm for a cemetery after several people had already been buried here. He specified that it be for people of "all orders, sects, nations and parties." Among the settlers some of the first African-American residents of Brontë are buried here. Almost one third of the headstones belong to children; several others belong to mariners.

One of the earliest settlers to arrive at "The mouth of the Twelve" (now Brontë Village) was Philip Sovereign.  Of Palatine German descent, he arrived in 1814 from Sussex County, New York, via Waterford in the District of Upper Canada.  Philip died on 2 July 1833, aged 55 years.  His son Charles farmed on this land until his death on 21 Dec 1885.  Both father and son are buried here.

The grave of Philip Sovereign

A gale in Lake Ontario claimed the life of young mariner James Baker who is buried here, near the west corner. 'Jimmy' Baker was first mate on the schooner Magellan when she collided with the U. L. Hurd in 1877. His was the only body recovered. In the record of death for James Baker both his year of birth and his place of birth are listed as unknown, although it is noted that his body "was returned to his parents for interment at Bronte".  The stone marks his age at death as 28 years and 20 days.

James Baker

The storms which took the lives of Brontë mariners also claimed the bones of some of the survivors and their families. Over the years about 70 feet of cemetery and 100 feet of road allowance have gone into the lake, taking a few graves with it.

Reference: Brimacombe, Philip. The Story of Brontë Harbour
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...