Preserve Our Cemeteries

This site is dedicated to promoting the preservation and restoration of abandoned pioneer and family cemeteries in Eastern Ontario.

Why preserve cemeteries? Cemeteries are important pieces of our heritage and are a non-renewable resource. A cemetery’s survival is threatened by many factors such as: expanding urban areas, vandalism, removal of stones to other sites, neglect etc. If these sites are not properly cared for, the history that they contain may be lost forever.

Historic cemeteries have many functions. They are excellent historical and educational resources, sometimes referred to as outdoor museums and classrooms. Cemeteries are primary source documents. At times, there may not be any other record about an area other than its cemeteries, especially, prior to the 1830's when the first laws were passed requiring births, marriages and deaths to be recorded by a provincial registrar. Therefore, they provide clues about the people who lived and settled in an area and what may have caused their deaths. In addition, the layout of a cemetery, combined with the epitaphs, size, style, shape and quality of the markers can provide special insight into the social character of a community.

There are approximately 5000 known cemeteries in Ontario. Of these, almost 2000 have become inactive or neglected by their owners, leaving them under provincial legislation to be controlled by their municipalities. Historic cemeteries are more threatened now than ever before. Neglect of cemeteries has become a widespread problem as population and religions have changed. Often, the maintenance and repairs that have taken place have been inappropriate, which has led to the rapid deterioration of cemetery markers. As well, damage from other variables such as: acidic rainfall, road salt, freezing and thawing cycles, soil erosion, poor drainage, plant overgrowth, vandalism and other pollutants has increased over the years, to the point that in some areas, the removal of markers to safe indoor storage is being considered. Today, much focus has been on public safety; liability and keeping cemeteries safe. As tombstones age, their materials can become unstable, possibly resulting in the monuments falling over.

As a historian every attempt has been made to ensure the accuracy of this index. If an error is found please do not hesitate to use the contact information provided on this site to report the issue. Should you wish to view any of the cemeteries listed below, please consider the privacy of landowners at all times.

If you are aware of any cemeteries in Peterborough or Hastings County which are not yet included in this index, please contact us.

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