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The Veterans Cemetery Esquimalt, British Columbia

"God's Acre"


Canada's naval history has its roots in the Veterans Cemetery in Esquimalt, British Columbia. This old cemetery, which dates back to 1868, began as a resting place for men of the sea but many others who have served in Canada's army and air force have joined them over the years.

On July 8, 1868, Rear-Admiral George Fowler Hastings of the Royal Navy purchased an acre of land from the Puget Sound Agricultural Company, a subsidiary of the Hudson's Bay Company, for use as a cemetery for "deceased officers and men". Up until this time, naval officers had been buried at the Quadra Street Cemetery, now known as Pioneer Square. The sailors were buried on Brothers Island at the entrance of Esquimalt Harbour.

Thus, a piece of land which was once a turnip field on the Constance Cove farm soon became known to sailors as "God's Acre". At the outset, the cemetery was divided into three sections - one for Episcopalians, one for Roman Catholics and one for Dissenters. The chapel, which was built of woods from the Commonwealth including camphor, teak, iron wood and mahogany, was left unconsecrated for the common use of all sects. The land and building cost a total of $250.

Taken from Veteran's Affairs