St. Ninian’s Pioneer Cemetery

The Pioneer Cemetery is located on Main Street by the John Paul Centre, the Opportunity Shop, and the How Club. It was established in 1824 when Father Fraser obtained a parcel of land on the north side of Main Street in order to build a church. The Cemetery was laid out to contain 185 plots, each of which could hold six burials. In 1874, the new Saint Ninian Cathedral was officially dedicated and the former on Main Street was converted into a school. The last burial in the Main Street cemetery occurred in 1877. Since then, three buildings and a parking lot have been constructed on the cemetery property. In 1981, the remaining 46 headstones were laid flat, in a semicircle formation, at the back of the  cemetery property. The remaining headstones were removed for safekeeping in 2020, with plans to eventually reinstate them back in the cemetery.

Pioneer Cemetery Heritage Project

The Pioneer Cemetery Heritage Project aims at salvaging and enhancing what remains of the Main Street Cemetery in honour of our forefathers. The objectives of this project include:

  • The creation of a beautiful heritage site to recognize the pioneers buried there, who established and developed our community.
  • A place where the religious and educational history of our community can be passed on to our citizens, tourists, and future generations.
  • A welcoming, accessible, and environmentally friendly green space of serenity and relaxation.
  • A respectful place that can host appropriate public functions.

Generally, the three year plan includes cleaning/repairing and standing the remaining 46 headstones installation of wrought iron fencing, solar lighting, a Celtic cross, benches, landscaping, signage, development of a website/Facebook page, and installation of QR (Quick Response) Bar Code posts. These posts will permit visitors to scan the codes with their cellphones, which will then connect the to the website site for historical information. The conceptual plan developed has an estimated cost of $260,000. 

1841 Cemetery Plot Plan

Conceptual Plan

A fundraising campaign has been initiated. All donations are greatly appreciated and tax receipts can be issued. Should you wish to make a donation, please specify that it is for the “Pioneer Cemetery”, and submit a cheque, money order, or e-transfer payable to:

St. Ninian Parish, P.O. Box 1628, Antigonish, NS, B2G2L8


Phone number: (902) 863-2338

If you wish to donate online using CanadaHelps, please click on the button below!

For further information, please contact the St. Ninian’s Parish office:

121 Saint Ninian Street
Phone: (902) 863-2338