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Pioneer woman’s gravesite remembered with city park

November 2017

In the south-east corner of Barrie, Ontario, sits a small park sandwiched between Priscillas Place and Lockhart Road sits small corner park named J. Gibbons Park. All that one will find in this park are a lone grave and a monument stone telling the story of a woman named Jane (Young) Gibbins, the namesake of the park.

Not much is known about Jane other than what is written on a large stone tablet next to the grave, which tells how Jane, her husband David Gibbins and their children came to Canada from County Down in Ireland in 1836, setting up a temporary farm in Markham.

David Gibbins headed north to Innisfil Township to check out four properties, bringing back soil samples for his wife to inspect. Once a property at Lot 11, Concession 11 was picked, David headed out once again to build shelters for his family and their livestock. Jane and their children followed later, but a few miles short of the farm, the animals refused to go any further. Jane sent the children ahead and stayed behind with the animals.

The following morning, Jane arrived at the farm but died in her sleep while taking a nap later that day, exhausted and weakened from exposure from spending the night without proper shelter.

David buried his wife on a hill in the south-east corner of the farm she had chosen for her family since there was no other cemetery in the area.

Today the farm is gone and the land is now a housing development within the City of Barrie.

Jane Gibbins’ grave features a new headstone and is once again maintained, serving as a reminder to the hardships of the early residents of Innisfil Township and Simcoe County.

Sources:  Tablet at her gravesite.

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

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