Harbour Pioneer Cemetery Site

The Harbour Pioneer Cemetery is the final resting place for some of Oshawa’s earliest settlers.  Located just east of where the harbor is today, the cemetery was easily recognizable by the ring of trees that surrounded it.

According to the grave markers, the first burial was that of Nancy Henry, the mother of Thomas Henry who passed away in 1816 just shortly after their arrival in this area.  However, it is believed that there may have been burials as early as 1800.  The cemetery is also the resting place of Benjamin Wilson, Oshawa’s first settler of European descent.  Interestingly, it wasn’t the first resting place for Mr. Wilson, nor was it his last.

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In the early 1970’s plans were put forth for a large expansion to the harbour.  The expansion would extend eastward and incorporate the land where the cemetery was. After a great deal of negotiations, it was decided that the cemetery would be moved. The cemetery would be moved to Bonnie Brae Point.

In 1975 the remains of 195 people as well as 60 grave markers were exhumed and transferred to their new location on Bonnie Brae Point by Riverside Cemetery Company of Weston, Ontario.  Unfortunately, as there was no archaeological group working on the project, the opportunity to conduct a complete archaeological report on the site was not undertaken.

While that opportunity may have been missed, the move did all for some further information on the site and those buried there to be learned.  All of the records concerning the fire had been lost in a fire years prior which made it difficult to ascertain the names of those buried in the cemetery that were not listed on the headstones.   However with the use of coffin plates, stone grave markers, and thorough research, a number of identities have been established.

Staff at the museum have been working to identify others buried in the cemetery.  This new research has enabled us to add 7 new names to those who we know were buried, leaving only 79 unknown burials.

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