Pioneer Cemetery - Kamloops, BC
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member ScroogieII
N 50° 40.642 W 120° 19.259
10U E 689272 N 5617372
Quick Description: Pioneer Cemetery was the first cemetery in Kamloops, with the final burial taking place in 1901. Falling into disuse, it was finally taken over by the city and restored in 1962
Location: British Columbia, Canada
Date Posted: 9/1/2020 1:19:56 PM
Waymark Code: WM132G1
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member bluesnote
Views: 2

Long Description:
It was pioneer rancher John Peterson who provided property for a public cemetery for Kamloops in 1876 and it was government agent John Ussher who accepted the offer on behalf of the city. Ironically, Ussher was murdered just three years later and buried in the new cemetery in 1879. With the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1885, the Kamloops settlement began spreading eastward towards the cemetery. The New Townsite Syndicate purchased Peterson's ranch in 1884 on speculation and title to the cemetery was included in the sale. The Syndicate immediately began charging burial fees. Peterson himself had to pay $8.00 in 1892 to bury his wife. The City of Kamloops purchased a new cemetery site in 1898 which opened in 1900.

The last burial in Pioneer Cemetery occurred in 1901. The old cemetery was gradually abandoned and left derelict until 1962 when the provincial government ordered the municipality to assume care of the site. After years of neglect, tombstones were vandalized and the cemetery became overgrown.

After taking over the cemetery, the city collected the remaining tombstones and remounted them in a group in the southwest corner of the cemetery, turning the remainder of the property into a park.
Pioneer Cemetery
The Pioneer Cemetery is located north of Lorne Street at the northeast end of Kamloops. Set on flat terrain overlooking the Thompson River and surrounded by a screen of mature deciduous and coniferous trees, the Pioneer Cemetery was closed in approximately 1900 and now functions as a park. A number of original tombstones have been relocated to the southwest corner of the site.

The Pioneer Cemetery is valued as the oldest burial ground in Kamloops, adapted over time to suit changing community needs and demographics. Initially established in 1876 on land owned by rancher John Peterson (1825-1908), the cemetery provided a privately-owned space for the burial of early Kamloops residents. During the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway in the area from 1883 to 1885, and the subsequent population and economic boom, the Kamloops town site extended east, and Peterson’s land - including the title to the cemetery - was purchased by the New Town Syndicate in 1884. The syndicate charged a small fee for burial in what was, at the time, the only local cemetery. The City of Kamloops was incorporated in 1893, and five years later purchased land for the first public cemetery, which became the Pleasant Street Cemetery. The Pioneer Cemetery was used until approximately 1900. Over time, it fell into disrepair and the tombstones were vandalized. In 1962, the provincial government directed the City to look after the site, which was then converted into a park. The remaining tombstones were relocated to the southwest corner of the site, laid horizontally in concrete and surrounded by the remains of an historic wrought iron fence.

A physical testament to the strength and early beginnings of the Kamloops community, the cemetery embodies a collective memory and spirit. Many early residents were interred at the cemetery, including community members whose lives reflect the history, development, heroism and tragedies of the early history of Kamloops. The earliest remaining headstone is that of John Tannatt Ussher (1844-1879), noted as “Killed by the McLean Bros.” Other pioneers buried here include John Peterson and his wife, Margaret Alexandra (died 1898) Daniel Berkley Wiley (1832-1889), Peter J. Fraser (1869-1895), Reverend Freeman Harding (1842-1893) and members of the Edwards, Latremouille and Hancock families.

The cemetery also features many decorative and unique monuments and headstones, in materials such as sandstone, granite and marble, that are valued because they capture the fundamental nature of the cemetery's original design as a rustic Victorian park cemetery. These tombstones were generally vertical, monumental in style and inscribed with traditional Victorian symbols of death such as the scroll, column, tree trunk, clasped hands and star.

Key elements that define the heritage character of the Pioneer Cemetery include its:
- location on historic Lorne Street with views of the Thompson River
- open expanse of lawn with a perimeter screen of mature deciduous trees
- variety of high quality gravestone materials such as carved granite, sandstone and marble
- variety of gravestone styles such as shouldered, domed and screened headstones, and flat plaque and slat-faced markers and column types such as sawed-off tree stumps, obelisks, and columns topped by spheres
- variety of Victorian gravestone symbols such as epitaphs, religious and plant/floral motifs, and body symbolism
From Historic Places Canada
Photo goes Here
Pioneer Cemetery circa 1900
Official Heritage Registry: [Web Link]

780 Lorne Street
Kamloops, BC
V2C 1W7

Heritage Registry Page Number: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
To log a visit to a Waymark in this category at least one photo of the property, taken by the visitor, must be included with the visit, as well any comments they have concerning either their visit or the site itself. Suggested inclusions are: what you like about the site, its history, any deviations from the description in the heritage listing noted by the visitor, and the overall state of repair of the site.
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