As with all cemeteries, it is a solemn, wistful and, at times, humbling experience to read the inscriptions on the headstones at Mount Carmel cemetery. It is a journey into the community's past as one reads the names of the people who have helped to shape the Placentia area over the decades and centuries. Whether safely tucked away in the memories of their descendants or gracing the pages of history books, these individuals remain a vital part of the community.
In 1786, a Father Bourke built both a chapel and a Priest’s residence. At the time, a graveyard was also set aside. In the subsequent decades, Father Morrison built a church in 1829, completing it in 1830. And then, in 1878 the foundation stone for a new church was laid. Although work did not begin in earnest until 1886, by 1889, the church was largely complete.
And thus, the landscape of Placentia changed with not only the erection of the Sacred Heart Church. It also signalled the construction of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cemetery on Dixon’s Hill. As part of the construction and design of the new church, the graves that were present along the front and side of the church were moved to “Our Lady of Mount Carmel” Cemetery.
Although a good number of the headstones are decipherable, others are less so. Those that can be read reflect a reach into the middle to latter nineteenth century. However, given that some of the headstones from the original church were moved, it is likely that the headstones commemorate lives led in the eighteenth century.
However, time has had its way and, as a result, parts of the cemetery have fallen into disrepair. Bearing this in mind, in 2011, William Barron recognised that the cemetery was in need of some attention. Thus, in that year and the beginning of 2012, Mr. Barron and others from the cemetery committee, partnered with the Placentia Area Development Association (PADA) to undertake the reparations to the cemetery.
As part of the required work, the ground around some of the graves had sunk and so, 454 graves were filled. As well, 196 headstones were restored with some being either glued or angle-ironed in an erect position. Additionally, a gazebo was built for visitors to the cemetery and for the purposes of holding an outdoor Mass.
Alongside, the physical reparations, PADA was also able to document over 200 names. The intention is for the remaining names to be similarly archived.
In any case, the work continues to ensure that Mount Carmel remains an integral and valuable part of the Placentia community.
Hours Open: All hours
Seasons Open: All seasons
Time Period Represented: 18th century to present
Visitor Fees: No fees
Although situated on Dixon's Hill, it is located on a paved road and is therefore accessible by car.