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Union Burial Ground – The final resting place for United Empire Loyalists in Burlington

April 2024

Cemeteries can serve as a window into the past and can provide a lot of information about the history of a community. This is very true when it comes to old pioneer cemeteries, like the Union Burying Ground on Plains Road East in Burlington.

Established in 1848, it’s the final resting place of numerous United Empire Loyalists, who immigrated to the area from America during the American Revolutionary War. Located along Concession 1 SDS, fronting onto the King’s Highway #2, on the Nelson Township side of the town line with East Flamborough Township, the Union Burying Ground is also the final resting place for two veterans of the War of 1812: Private Asahel Davis and Thomas Ghent. In fact, the cemetery was established on a portion of the Asahel Davis farm, which itself was formerly part of “Brant’s Block,” the original land grant given to Mohawk Chief Joseph Brant (Thayendanegea) for his services to the Crown, including as a Captain in the British Army during the American Revolutionary War.

Both the Davis and Ghent families would go on to be prominent families in the history of Burlington Aldershot. Other prominent early families include the Fisher, Gage, Peart and Newham families, to name a few. When Davis sold the land for the cemetery, it featured ten family plots for area families.

A distinctive feature of the cemetery is the red brick wall and stone foundation, built in 1888, that encloses the cemetery, measuring 104 feet by 138 feet. It still stands today, although it has fallen apart in places. Protected through heritage designation, the wall is currently being repaired.

On the south side, facing onto Plains Road, are two the original iron gates on two sides, with the widening of Plains Road making the addition of two more iron gates on the west side necessary.

A lot has changed in the 176 years since the cemetery was established. Nelson Township was consumed by the City of Burlington, along with the four lower concessions of East Flamborough Township that includes the former unincorporated Village of Aldershot. Other than Bellview House, on the opposite side of Plains Road East, formerly Highway #2, which dates back to 1873, no other similar period buildings remain. Neither does the section Jobs Lane, formerly the Town Line Road, south of the Canadian National Railway tracks, which ran just to the west of the cemetery. Modern homes and commercial retail areas occupy what was once the surrounding farmland.

Jobs Lane has the distinction of being the first survey line in Western Ontario, surveyed by Augustus Jones in 1784, from Burlington Bay, to Arthur, Ontario.

Today, the cemetery is privately owned and it’s maintained by descendants of those resting inside the red brick walls. Some of the older tombstones had been worn illegible by time or have disappeared completely, leaving many graves unmarked, compounding the problem of incomplete burial records. The late Miller Peart, a well-known genealogist and long time member of local history/heritage societies in the Wentworth-Halton area. Mr. Peart’s interest in the cemetery originated from it being the burial site of his grandparents, Jacob Peart and Jane Easterbrook. 

Peart spent many years researching and building up a record of the burials that had taken place in the Union Burying Ground, beyond what was visible on the existing monuments, old records and his own personal knowledge of ancestors buried in the cemetery.

Union Burying Ground is located at 1001 Plains Road East in Burlington, Ontario.

Sources: The Union Burying Ground – Flamborough Archives And Heritage Society (flamboroughhistory.com), Union Burying Ground offers glimpse into Burlington history (insidehalton.com), Heritage Property INdex » Flamboro East Township (heritagepin.com), Bellview House, 1006 Plains Road East, Heritage Burlington… | Flickr.

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.

Permanent link to this article: https://militarybruce.com/union-burial-ground-the-final-resting-place-for-united-empire-loyalists-in-burlington/

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