EASTERN ONTARIO – On March 16, Stuart Manson of Cornwall released “Sacred Grounds: Loyalist Cemeteries of Eastern Ontario. Manson, a co-owner of Public History in Ottawa, lives in Cornwall with his family and is the son of Lyall and Margaret Manson. Lyall was a local historian and genealogist who worked tirelessly to preserve, protect and promote our history. Sacred Grounds was dedicated to Lyall for as Manson commented, his father had a “great influence on my historical pursuits in general, and more particularly relating to his advocacy of heritage cemeteries”.
The book examines “the history of the Loyalists who settled in our region in 1784” as well as heritage cemeteries. Manson mentioned how heritage cemeteries provide an opportunity to “naturally display our history and honour the people who came before us”. In addition to providing information on the cemetery itself, Manson provides the reader with “the personal stories of these Loyalists”, providing information previously “either unknown or not widely known to the general public”.
Included in his book are Maple Grove Cemetery, Trinity Anglican Church Cemetery and St. Andrew’s Roman Catholic Church Cemetery in Stormont County, in Glengarry County, Knox-St. Andrew’s United Church Cemetery, with Iroquois Point Cemetery and Pioneer Memorial in Dundas County.
Manson explained there were several factors were considered when choosing which cemetery to research including the opportunity to discuss historical events as well, ensure “good geographic distribution across the region, and as much religious distribution as possible”. He continued the choice of Maple Grove Cemetery, where Loyalist Jeremiah French is interned, on the outskirts of Cornwall provided him with the opportunity to discuss the “effects of the St. Lawrence Seaway and Power Project” as Maple Grove Cemetery was relocated during the project.
Manson explained the book taken him approximately two years to write and is the first of three volumes on the subject. The research was conducted over several years utilizing resources such as “correspondence, wills, land instruments, burial registers” as well as articles and history books.
Manson was instrumental in beginning a program in collaboration with the St. Lawrence Branch of the United Empire Loyalist’s Association of Canada to have plaques installed at Trinity Anglican Church cemetery in Cornwall and Knox-St. Andrew’s United Church cemetery in Bainsville.
On May 27, Manson is scheduled to deliver a presentation on “Loyalist Cemeteries of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry” during the virtual 2021 UELAC conference hosted by UE Loyalists Bridge Annex branch. He explained participation in conferences and delivering presentations “is a useful way to promote the importance of heritage cemeteries.
The reader of “Sacred Grounds: Loyalist Cemeteries of Eastern Ontario” will be provided with a look into the lives of United Empire Loyalists who came here seeking new homes with hopes for a new future. Manson commented how he liked “the idea of giving a voice to the Loyalists I profiled in book. No longer are they silent names on a tombstone or in a burial register. They now have their stories told, their trials and tribulations recorded”.