Gravesites & Ghosts

Each year, thousands make pilgrimages to cemeteries to pay their respects to stars and other famous personalities. Although we do not currently have any megastars buried in our City, there are several notable persons who have chosen Burlington as their final resting place.  Learn more about our gravesites & ghosts… if you dare!

Sir Allen Napier MacNab – Holy Sepulcher Cemetery
Born: February 19, 1798  Died: August 8, 1862

Sir Allen Napier MacNab was born in Niagara-on-the-Lake in 1798 to Allan and Anne MacNab. Both of McNab’s parents had roots in the loyalist army that fought during the American Revolution.  Sir Allen MacNab continued this military heritage when he fought in the war of 1812 at the age of 14. In 1826, after his service was over, McNab relocated from what was formerly known as York (currently Toronto) to Hamilton. He began to amass a large fortune due to his established law practice and investments in real estate.  Around 1830, he started his political career that ultimately resulted in MacNab becoming the Premier of the Province of Canada from 1854-1856. He was succeeded by John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first Prime Minister.  Sir Allen McNab died at his estate in Hamilton in 1862, being laid to rest at the Holy Sepulcher Catholic Cemetery on Plains Road in Burlington. His former residence, Dundurn Castle, is open to the public for tours and additional information.

Adam Fergusson –St Luke’s Cemetery
Born: March 4, 1783  Died: September 25, 1862

Adam Fergusson was a politician and agriculturalist responsible for the creation of the Town of Fergus Ontario, the CNE and the Veterinary College at the University of Guelph.  Fergusson was born in Perthshire, Scotland in 1783 to Neil Fergusson and Agnes Colquhoun. Before moving to Canada in 1833, Fergusson had established an impressive resume in his home country. He became a magistrate and deputy lieutenant of Perthshire.  In addition, he had become the director of the Highland Society of Scotland, a major agricultural association. One year after relocating to Waterdown, Ontario, Fergusson and James Webster bought the 7,367 acres of land which became the Town of Fergus. He was also a founding member and the first president of the Agricultural Association of Upper Canada which held annual shows across Canada. These shows would eventually be moved to Toronto and renamed the Canadian National Exhibition.

Fergusson is also credited with bringing the founder of the veterinary college at the University of Guelph, Dr Andrew Smith, to Canada.  Adam Fergusson died in Waterdown and was buried at St. Luke’s Cemetery, the site of the oldest church in Burlington.

Elizabeth Brant (Kerr) –St Luke’s Cemetery
Born: 1796  Died: April 25, 1845

Elizabeth Brant was the daughter of Joseph Brant and his third wife Catherine. Elizabeth married a politician named William Johnson Kerr and they had five children together. In 1802 the British gave Joseph Brant approximately 3500 acres of land for his outstanding military service in the city of Burlington, Ontario. A portion of this land was inherited by Elizabeth Kerr upon her father’s death in 1807. Elizabeth then donated a portion of her land to build Burlington’s oldest church, St Luke’s. Elizabeth Kerr and her husband William Kerr were buried on the same day at St Luke’s on April 27, 1845.

William Johnson Kerr –St Luke’s Cemetery
Born: January 1, 1787  Died: April 23, 1845

William Johnson Kerr was a political figure in Upper Canada. He was born in 1787, the son of Robert Kerr and grandson of Sir William Johnson. He was a captain in the Indian Department and with John Brant and John Norton, he led a group of Six Nations warriors at the Battle of Queenston Heights. He was also involved in the Battle of Beaver Dams and other battles during the War of 1812. He married Elizabeth Brant and they had four children.  He passed away two days before his wife of cholera. They were buried side by side on April 27th 1845 at St. Luke’s Cemetery.

The Ireland Family– St John’s Cemetery

The Irelands are known to be one of the first families to settle in Burlington. Joseph Ireland purchased 200 acres of land for the purpose of building a residence with his wife Ruth and three children. They began the construction of this house, the Ireland House, in 1835, completing it in 1837.  The Irelands occupied the house until 1985 and in 1987 it was purchased by the City of Burlington and made into a local museum. The Irelands are buried near their homestead at St. John’s Anglican Church, a congregation in which Joseph Ireland is one of the founding members.

Union Burying Ground (Brick or Loyalist Cemetery)

In 1806, the Davis and Ghent families moved to Burlington onto land they had purchased from Joseph Brant.  A plot of land at the front of the Davis farm was sold to ten families in the area to use as burial plots.  Established in 1848, this cemetery with its unique brick wall is recognized and protected through heritage designation.  Two veterans from the War of 1812 are interred at this cemetery, Private Asahel Davis and Thomas Ghent.  The red brick wall with its stone foundation was built in 1888.

Woodland Cemetery

Identified as “the finest cemetery site in North America” by the Hamilton Spectator, Woodland Cemetery, owned by the City of Hamilton, sits on a scenic and historic parcel of land facing Hamilton Harbour in Burlington.  The cemetery has ties to the War of 1812, as well as multiple sections dedicated to Canadian Soldiers.

Bayview Cemetery & Mausoleum

Bayview Cemetery and Mausoleum was built in the early 1920’s and was then known as “Hamilton Mausoleum”, the first of its kind for the region.  It was also considered one of the most beautiful, reflecting the area’s growing prosperity.  Bayview is the only privately and family-owned, independent, licensed cemetery, crematory and mausoleum in the area. Bronze doors open upon the stately simplicity of the cella or chapel in the mausoleum.  Materials used in the construction and decoration of the mausoleum were sourced in Canada and contain marble from the Canadian quarries in Philipsburg, Quebec, while the main walls of the building are of Queenston sandstone.  A central feature of the mausoleum is the stained glass windows in the chapel and the main and ground floor halls and corridors.  They were designed by the well-known decorative artist and mural painter Mr. James Blomfield OSA (1872-1951) and feature classical iconography.

Pioneer Cemeteries

These cemeteries are an interesting part of the history of Burlington. In north Burlington there are several cemeteries that once belonged to pioneer families that inhabited the area. These families would all be buried together on their land. They were often associated with churches that were established by the surrounding families. The list of these cemeteries include:

  • Appleby Cemetery
  • Campbell – Davidson Cemetery
  • Colling Pioneer Cemetery
  • Deforest Cemetery
  • Kilbride Presbyterian Cemetery
  • Kilbride United Cemetery
  • Mt. Vernon Cemetery
  • Nelson United Cemetery
  • Salem Cemetery

Spooktacular Boo-lington?

The Burlington area is also known for paranormal activity with many locations claiming resident ghosts.  Several sites including Emma’s Back Porch, Ireland House and Burlington Bay have been featured on shows such as Creepy Canada, and Ghost Trackers.  Other locations claim to have a ghostly presence including Joseph Brant Museum and Paletta Mansion.

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