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The Former Wallaceburg (McDougall) (Water Street) Cemetery

Now Abandonned

With Thanks to Henry VanHaren and Hugh Cameron

Old Wallaceburg Cemetery as it looks today.

The Following Recollections are from Hugh Cameron. He is retired to Pictou N.S. Close to ferry to PEI..

As a child growing up next to Water Street Cemetery in the 40's and 50's , it was neglected. No shrubs, flowers, etc. Only an almost flat cement marker in the middle engraved to indicate its history. Even walking by you'd not know it had been a cemetery. Faithfully cut by the town every couple of weeks but mostly used by kids as a park even tho Steinhoff Park was only a block away with playground equipment, ball diamonds, etc.

I inherited this house next door to it in the 60's and raised family there. By the 70's it had become a full-fledged playing field for soccer and lacrosse pick-up games. After consultations with Mayor Cecile Bechard, a large wooden sign was erected proclaiming it a Pioneer Cemetery. Sport activities prohibited. I was surprised by the number of locals who had just thought it was a big, empty lot. The kid problem was solved but nothing was done to beautify it except keeping grass cut.

As kids we were told the tombstones had been buried under this cement slab and "some" of the graves had been removed.

In 1975 I sold and moved away. Today. The sign is gone and it now has a new generation of kids. So... Little has changed. Still abandoned basically.

I had to have a property survey done when it was sold. Discovered the original survey way, way back was wrong. 50 feet of my property was actually cemetery, my lot ended 50 feet into my neighbour's yard and house and so on all the way down the street. It was quite complicated getting that sorted out.

I think the original Cemetery was much larger than it is now and probably a lot of surrounding properties are part of the original cemetery.

Old McDougall - Water St Cemetery
From Photo Wallaceburg News about 1913

Monument existing today in Wallaceburg Museum.

SEE other photos of the old cemetery here.

Our researcher Henry VanHaren writes...

Although Riverview Cemetery first opened in 1885, it was not the first cemetery for the town. A cemetery was established by the McDougall family on property owned by J. H. Fraser and was located on present day Water Street at Park Street. Many of the graves that were here were for the original Baldoon Pioneers that moved to " The Forks" after they abandoned the Baldoon Settlement due to poor conditions. Burials at this cemetery range from the late 1840's to about 1885. In 1900, Wallaceburg town council held discussions with the McDougalls concerning opening up a street through the old cemetery. At this time many of the graves were already being relocated to the Riverview Cemetery.

Through-out the years, all of the known graves would be relocated to the Riverview Cemetery and the McDougall Cemetery was cleaned up and now exists as a small lot containing a cement slab to mark that the pioneer cemetery once existed here.

The following pages are articles taken from The Wallaceburg News and give information about those that were buried here, the town meetings about the street access and the eventual closing of the cemetery site.

Wording on the Monument to the Right is... Sacred to the Memory of Margareta. Beloved Daur of John and Mary Jane Ruttle. Died March 27 1882. Aged 15 years and 6 months.
The Museum staff tell us that the monument was apparently found in the coal room at the Wallaceburg High school. Apparently it was used by the science class to see the effects of weathering over the years. It was donated to the Museum by Jamie McDougall.

First Cemetery in Town Recalled.

Taken from the Wallaceburg News, April 4 1973

By Frank Mann Local Historian

The first known local cemetery was located on Water Street at the Park Street Corner just South of Hugh Cameron's residence. Now referred to as Pioneer Park a single in ground tablet remains as a reminder of it's past purpose and history.

Many of our early settlers were interred here amongst those being Angus McDonald, whose grave marker is shown in this photograph. McDonald came to the area with the Baldoon setlers under Lord Selkirk at the age of seven years. Eventually he became one of the first school teachers in the area in a small log building on Nelson Street. Later he moved to Port Lambton and taught in Sombra for a few years.

  During the Fenian Raids he was captured by neighbouring Americans and held hostage in Marine City.  Eventually McDonald was rescued by Capt Vidal of Lambton County Militia, stationed in Sarnia.  During the skirmishes in the area fire damage was done in Sombra but eventually the Americans were driven back to Michigan.

The old cemetery was considered to be supplied with the proverbial grave yard hosts during olden days. Many a time the people of this town, the writer included, would purposely steer clear of this desolate and spooky place in hopes of avoiding the ghosts that lurked behind the grave stones.

The background of the photograph relates some additional history of our town. The building and stack noted in the centre mark the location of Wallaceburg's first electric steam generating plant. The building was near the residences of Mike Duchene and Ferucio Celotto on Emily Street. Here electric power was produced for the town's first street lights. For years after, the remains of the stone foundations were a favourite haunt for the youngsters of the neighbourhood as they formed a natural fort.

Detailed research of the history of the Pioneer Cemetery was carried out by Doug MacKenzie as part of his master's thesis on the Baldoon settlement. An excerp from his research appeared recently in the January issue of “The Beaver” a well known publication of the Hudson Bay Company.

Old McDougall - Water St Cemetery
From Photo Wallaceburg News about 1912
Note shed "Boys had built" that was later removed
behind the tree.

The Wallaceburg News. May 15. 1913

We herewith publish a photo of the McDougall Cemetery, the picture of which was taken about a year ago. Since that time the cemetery has been enclosed by a wire fence, the large tree has been cut down, and the small shed built by some small boys, removed. The side walk and road way in the foreground was once part of the cemetery but when Mr J__ E McDougall closed the roadway next to his property running through his property it was necessary to open up a road way through the cemetery. Relatives of those who were buried there were notified and several bodies were removed to the new Wallaceburg Cemetery. The cemetery was given to the McDougall family for a burial ground by Archie McDougall.

We also publish a few of the names that we were able to decipher on the tombstones that are still standing. But of course there are scores of unknown graves of many who were leading citizens of Wallaceburg and vicinity.

Sarah Judson wife of Sam Judson Age 29 died 1885 .

Lewis Johnston 5 months died 1853.

George McDonald age 9 years died 1859.

Berta Little son of Albert and Elizabeth age 11 months 1871

Hanna Little wife of Hiram Little 1859.

John McGregor son of Dan and Nancy age 23 years died 1855

Catharine Bury age 34, died 1868

Elizabeth McDonald wife of Angus McDonald age 25 years died 1849.

Mary Murdock wife of James Murdock age 78 died 1880.

Mary Ann Chapman wife of Francis Chapman.

Mary Ann wife of J D McDougall age 33 years died 1855.

Effie May daughter of C and Mary Smith age 14 months died 1872

Melissa Smith wife of Josiah Smith age 39 years died 1868

Mary Ann Rutledge daughter of James and Ellen Rutledge age 18 years died 1860

Catherine Craine age 69 years died 1873

Alexander McGregor son of Nancy and Daniel McGregor age 20 died 1848.

Katherine McGregor age 23 died 1853

William John Mcgregor age 1 year and 9 months died March 1873

Margaret wife of John Bachus Sr age 22 years.

Caroline wife of John Bachus age 24 years.

G Walton age 50 years died 1850.

Among others who are buried there are Jno McDougall's four daughters.

Squite McDougall's Parents and their son Chester and their daughter.

Henry and Chas Cross members of the family of Laughlin McDougall.

Ten members of the family of Hector McDougall.

Four members of the family of James McDougall.

John Moore McDonald and Family.

Alex McPherson.

Altavine Labadie and wife.

Scores of others.


Walter McDougall interviewed the Council requesting permission to use the old McDougall Cemetery on East Side Wallaceburg to erect buildings upon. He promised to remove the remains of the bodies buried there. The Mayor and Council would like to see the old cemetery cleared away but stated that the town never owned the property, that it was private property and that W McDougall would have to get permission from those who have relatives buried there.

There are many graves there yet although a number of bodies were removed a few years ago when part of the cemetery was turned into a road way. The picture that we publish of the cemetery was published about a year ago. Since then there has been some improvements made.

Recently we received the following information from a Baldoon family member Kim Thomas. Quote "Many years ago when the new bridge was being built at the east end of James Street a baily bridge was built further north right past the cemetery. Before they began they bulldozed the remaining headstones into the river there. What a shame that was. My mother was just heart broken."

Council information on extending the road through the cemetery
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Our Researcher Les Mancell writes... the bones and dust of the original Baldoon settlers are probably still in their graves in North Dover Twp. Then, along the Parkway, the McDonald (Snye) Graves. Then the first Wallaceburg Cemetery.