The site of the Old Burial Ground in Saint John, set aside in the original town plan, was in use from 1784 until 1848. It is the site of the burial of many of the United Empire Loyalists who came to Canada in the years immediately following the American War of Independence. As it appears today, this beautiful park like setting in the heart of the city almost appears to foreshadow the design of the later Victorian cemeteries even though it was closed just as that trend was becoming popular in England. The first burial in the cemetery was that of Coonradt Henricks who died in 1784 and whose marker remains to this day (upper left).
By the early 1990s the Old Burial Ground had severely deteriorated and in 1994 the Irving Family undertook the financing and organisation of a complete landscape renewal of the site, as a gift to the people of Saint John. The Family patriarch, K. C. Irving, had founded his first business in Saint John with his offices on adjacent to the Old Burial Ground. It was said that Irving always loved the site and looked upon it as an oasis of peace and tranquillity in the midst of the city. Today, the Irving family is involved in many companies including the petro-chemical industry. Irving Gas stations can be seen throughout the Maritime provinces.
The Irving Family erected a fountain in the centre of the site within which is depicted Canada's national symbol, the beaver. To quote from a bronze plaque installed beside the fountain,
"The Canadian Beaver, a prominent motif found throughout the site, depicts the hard work, enterprise and tenacious resolve of the city's founders and those who followed"
Many of the monuments have been conserved or restored, some better than others. Some markers appear to have been treated with a sealer which has discoloured the stone (see the stone on the left in the row of three behind the bench monument). But, all in all, the Irving family has done much to preserve this part of Maritime heritage. Click here for another page on this cemetery.