Barrack Hill Cemetery
Pioneer Cemetery in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Painting by Ruth McMillan in 1976
Shows the Head of the Rideau Canal Locks in Ottawa, Canada in 1893
April 8, 2016:
This is an advertizement which is appearing in the Ottawa Citizen this week:
This is a matter of some urgency as there is a deadline by the Government of Ontario for us to advise
them if we have ancestors buried in the old cemetery ("Barrack's Hill Cemetery") in downtown Bytown / Ottawa.
The cemetery is shown on the following 1842 map:
And here is a link to an April 7, 2016 article by Chris Lowrey in the Ottawa Citizen:
And another media release by TV station CTV in Ottawa:
I believe that one of my ancestors and many of their friends and neighbours who worked on the construction of the Rideau Canal
between 1826 and 1832 are buried in this cemetery.
" I believe that my GreatGreatGrandmother is buried in the old Barrack's Hill Cemetery along with her newborn child
(maybe the baby whose remains were discovered by the archaeologists). My GGGrandparents, Lawrence Burns and
Margaret Doyle were married in 1831 at Notre Dame Cathedral on what is now Sussex Drive. They also baptized several
children there in the 1830's. This was the Roman Catholic "mother church",
and the only Roman Catholic Church in Bytown at the time. It served the Catholic Irish, Francophone community and a few
Highland Scots. There may also be some Scots who built St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church at Kent and Wellington in 1828
buried there. I believe that this was likely a multi-denominational cemetery. Religion was a major part of the pioneers'
lives and surely some recognition should be given at Notre Dame Cemetery for the Catholics interred at Barrack's Hill.
The Catholics there were likely mostly Rideau Canal construction workers and also victims of the 1832 Cholera epidemic.
I have a record of the Cathoics who died between 1829 and 1845 and are likely buried there. By the way, the main burial
ground appears to be on what is now Queen Street, not Sparks Street.
... Allan Lewis, web.bytown.net .
Note: There is no convenient "list" of the persons who are buried in the Barrack's Hill Cemetery. I believe that the only
source for these records are held by the individual churches, i.e. Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Methodist and Anglican.
However, according to the Bytown Gazette Mr. Theodore Beserer, who owned the Sandy Hill neighbourhood, forbade any more
burials on his property which includes present day MacDonald Park.
E-mail Allan Lewis
I have the names of the Roman Catholics who I believe to be buried in the Barrack Hill Cemetery.
These famillies will include some of the pioneer Francophone families in the Ottawa area.
I have also been in touch with the United Church Archives who may have some burial records for that time period for
the early Methodists and Presbyterian parishioners in early Bytown. They are partners with the City of Ottawa Archives
and are located at 100 Tallwood Drive at the corner of Woodroffe and Tallwood.
Their e-mail address is here.
For the archives of the early Protestant denominations in Bytown see here. I think that the best
way to proceed, if you believe that you have ancestors buried in the Barrack Hill Cemetery is to contact the archives
of the appropriate religious denomination, see if they have the appropriate records, see if they will release them to you,
and then you should contact Ms. Nancy Watkins from the Ontario Government at 1-416-212-7499. I have a call in to her but have
not heard back yet. This telephone number is long distance from Ottawa but I will try and get an e-mail address for Ms. Watkins.
... Allan Lewis
April 8, 2016:
This just in from Jim Stanzell:
Re the persons buried in 'Barrack Hill Cem' This is a problem as there are no lists of who is buried there. I know of a
few Sappers and Miners who died while building the Locks in present day Ottawa. I am working on settlers in
Goulbourn Township and most left after 22 Dec 1822 when supplies were cut off. Some how I think the best way to determine
who is buried in Barrack hill cemetery would be to, somehow, ask who knows of an ancestor who could be buried there.
But this would be very time consuming. There is another article in the Citizen, Thurs. 7 April 2016, page A6,
"Province looking for anyone related to early Bytown residents".
My short bit of info anyways.
... Jim Stanzell
And here is another posting today from Linda Gallagher: (From the United States and did not see the article in the Ottawa Citizen.
I just spoke with Ms. Watkins and will be attempting to send what little "proof" I have of my gggrandfather's
internment in Barrick Hill (burial notice in the Drouin Collection that is pretty much illegible to me) in 1842
to her. Where it goes from there is unknown to me, I am wondering if the site owners will be willing to do DNA testing.
Hi Linda Gallagher: I'm glad you called Ms. Watkins. It would be interesting to see what they have to say about DNA testing.
I'm currently posting in several FB groups but would prefer to deal with this subject matter on my web page at web.bytown.net/barrackhillcemetery.htm. Is it OK with you if I add your FB post to that page? I have spoken to Ms. Watkins
and they are aware of that page. Please let me know.
... Allan Lewis
Again from Linda:
Please go ahead and take it, Al, that would be wonderful - anything I can do to help is fine - would sure like to
solve the mystery of my ancestors ending up in that mass grave someday.
April 9, 2016:
Linda continues ... (Thank you Linda ! ... Al)
Besides his wife, his mother in law, and himself, my gggrandfather William Brennan also had an infant daughter
that died in 1829 less than a year after her birth, so she would have been in that cemetery, too. And there is
no mention of Mary Cornelia Brennan having been moved at all in any of my records.
April 10, 2016:
Thanks to Mr. Jim Stanzell for the following. This adds another group of possible interments to our developing burial list.
Note -- all of these burials would have to be verified to meet the satisfaction of the Provincial Government requirements.
I have a list of about 22 Sappers and Miners who died while building the Rideau Canal in Ottawa?
Who wants it and I will send as an attachment. They may be buried in barrack Hill Cem altho 3 of them show up
in Sandy Hilll Cem #28 Ref: 1911 Minutes City of Ottawa page 628, located in Ottawa city Archives.
Al, Hopefully they could take a DNA of each body/corpse for further use. I see difficulties with finding persons who
have an ancestor buried in Barrack hill cemeyery speedily. May have to deal thru National Archives in Kew in England.
I just sent to you, Ed and Mike a listing of about 22 Sappers and Miners who died while building the Rideau Canal.
I paid for a listing of all S&M's who died on the job. Now to find it?
... Jim Stanzell
Jim: Presumably most of the Sappers and Miners would have been buried by the Protestant denominations. As you say, this
would be a time-consuming process, assuming they would even agree to release their information.
I have just been going through the cholera deaths recorded for the year 1832 at Notre Dame church in Bytown.
There are at least 25 victims of cholera who are recorded in 1832 and who would most likely have been buried in the
Barrack's Hill Cemetery. Add the findings above by Mr. Jim Stanzell of the members of Colonel By's Sappers and
Miners, plus Linda Gallagher's ancestors above and we have almost 50 possible burials. And this does even not count
burials from the Protestant Churches or the construction workers on the Rideau Canal.
... Allan Lewis
April 11, 2016:
Just for the record, I feel a personal, civic and professional interest in promoting the search for the names
of our pioneer families who may be buried here. Here are some of the persons whom I have contacted,
via telephone or by e-mail:
1. Dr. Janet Young, who is the anthropologist at the Canadian Museum of Man in Gatineau, Quebec.
2. Mr. Chris Lowery who is the reporter at the Ottawa Citizen, who first documented this story.
3. The City of Ottawa Archives
4. Ms. Nancy Watkins who is the contact person for this matter at the provincial government in Toronto.
5. Dr. Bruce Elliott, History Professor at Carleton University.
6. The Ottawa branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society.
7. Persons through my Facebook Page.
8. Mrs. Linda Gallagher, a strong researcher from Minnesota, USA, who has ancestors buried in this cemetery.
9. The office of the Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa.
10. Persons who follow my web site Bytown or Bust, History and Genealogy in the Ottawa area.
There are still others to contact. If you can document the fact that you have ancestors buried in the Barrack's Hill Cemetery,
you must contact Ms. Nancy Watkins by telephone at 1-416-212-7499.
... Allan Lewis