Dating to the mid-nineteenth century, Immaculate Conception Cemetery in Cape Broyle, NL served as a burial ground for over a century. It is located along the Southern Shore Highway on a small hill on the northern side of the settlement overlooking Cape Broyle Harbour. The designation is confined to the area enclosed by the cemetery fence.
Statement of Significance
Formal Recognition Type
Municipal Heritage Building, Structure or Land
Immaculate Conception Cemetery has been designated a municipal heritage site by the Town of Cape Broyle because of its historic, cultural and aesthetic value.
Immaculate Conception Cemetery has historic value as a physical record of Cape Broyle’s history, the cemetery markers serving as both historic records and artifacts on the landscape. It is the first known cemetery in the community, with the earliest headstones dating from the mid 1800s. Cape Broyle did not see year round settlement until the late 1700s, when seasonal fishermen and their families from Ireland’s southeastern counties settled there, including the Alyward, Grant, Kelly, O’Brien, Walsh and Whelan families. Irish immigration continued into the early decades of the 1800s, with the arrival of the Cashin, Coady, Dalton, Furlong, Hartery, Kent and Lahey families. For over a century, this cemetery was used by Cape Broyle and the neighbouring communities of Admiral’s Cove and Brigus South, providing a partial genealogical record for the three outports.
Immaculate Conception Cemetery has historic and cultural value as residents buried there are noted figures in the community’s oral history and folklore. Among them are family members of Michael P. Cashin, who was Prime Minister of the Dominion of Newfoundland in 1919. Men who served in both World Wars from the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, Royal Navy, Merchant Navy and Forestry Unit are buried here, along with men who lost their lives working on the sea. Sailor John Yetman of St. Mary’s Bay, who was shot in Cape Broyle Harbour by the captain of an American Banker, is buried here and the well-known story of his death is often recounted in the community.
One of the more mysterious grave sites is that Reverend Patrick Burke from Tipperary, Ireland. Fr. Burke was an assistant at Holy Trinity Parish in Ferryland and died there on April 27, 1849. His is the only box tomb in the cemetery, as well as the only monument with Latin script. Legend has it that upon hearing of Fr. Burke’s death his distraught family arranged transportation to Newfoundland. Under the cover of darkness they removed the cleric’s body and brought it back to Ireland.
Immaculate Conception Cemetery has cultural value as a physical reminder of the ethnic composition of the region. From as early as the sixteenth century the Southern Shore was frequented by migratory fishermen from the Iberian Peninsula, France and England. Permanent settlement began in the mid to late eighteenth century when Irish fishing servants began to overwinter. This cultural background is a source of pride for residents of the Southern Shore, even though little physical evidence of their forefathers remains. The cemetery serves as a tangible witness to Irish immigration and its lasting effects on expressive cultural forms in the region.
Immaculate Conception Cemetery has aesthetic value due to its unique environmental setting and placement of burial plots. Located on a small hill on the north side of the settlement, it provides an impressive view of the community, particularly the South Side, Fairy Pond, Fletcher’s Hill and Cape Broyle Head. Cemeteries of this period were typically placed a distance away from settled areas, on the outskirts of what would have been considered living space. Immaculate Conception Cemetery conforms to this trend and serves as a marker of old community boundaries. The community has slowly grown around the cemetery with new roads and houses to the north, occupying what had largely been a wooded area.
The cemetery has further aesthetic value as it is one of the last in the region to retain traditional family plots enclosed by fences of varying styles. A meandering network of footpaths weave through a patchwork of plots of varying shapes and sizes, some accented by mature ornamental trees and shrubs.
Source: Town of Cape Broyle Regular Council Meeting Motion 36/06 May 17, 2006.
Character Defining Elements
All those elements which represent the age, cultural significance and aesthetic value of the cemetery, including:
-original memorial stones and monuments with their surviving inscriptions;
-positioning of grave markers;
-size, style and dimensions of existing enclosed family plots;
-fences of various materials enclosing family plots;
-mature trees and shrubs;
-view to and from the cemetery from a variety of vantage points, and;
-location, orientation and dimensions of the cemetery.
Location and History
Town of Cape Broyle
Southern Shore Highway
1840 - 1850