The McNab Family Cemetery
The small cemetery at Fort McNab, called by Thomas H. Raddall, "the world's best defended graveyard", predates the Fort by many decades. It was part of the original McNab homestead on the island. It contains thirteen marked graves of the McNabs and their relatives as well as a number of unmarked graves. Seven of the original stone markers have been destroyed by vandals.
According to Ron G. Blakeney who visited the island cemetery in 1971 and recorded the inscriptions on the remaining ornate headstones, the damaged markers were replaced by the Halifax-Dartmouth Regional Authority which leased a portion of McNabs Island in the 1970's. He reported nine, small white wooden crosses at the cemetery in 1971, of which only five remain today. They are in poor condition. It is not known whose graves they mark. Perhaps those of deceased McNab tenants, soldiers stationed at the island's forts, unidentified bodies found on the island's beaches, or victims of the 1866 cholera outbreak? We may never know.
The following graves still retain their original elaborate headstones. The actual inscriptions are given in bold italics, whereas brief biographical notes, using information gleaned from the personal genealogical collection of Donald Ross, follow in regular type:
in memory of/ Lewis Gibbens/ youngest son of/ James and Harriet McNab/
who died 24th August 1845/ aged 8 years and 6 months
In addition, seven graves are marked by identical slabs of concrete. It is not entirely clear who is responsible for replacing the vandalized original markers. Sources other than Ron Blakeney's manuscript, located in the Public Archives of Nova Scotia (call number MG5, vol.5, #30, microfilm reel 15075), suggest the late Mrs. Gladys Conrad (nee Lynch), the military, and Parks Canada.
to the memory of/ Roderick Hugonin/ died June 28, 1863/ aged 8 years
The internments range from 1809 to 1863, in addition to the 1934 grave of Ellen McNab. One of the original headstones, that of Sarah Ann Jacobs, recently broke in two. It has since been repaired by Parks Canada staff. The entire cemetery is fenced off and the gate locked. The Friends of McNabs Island Society, through and agreement with Parks Canada, maintain the cemetery.
A review of Parks Canada documents relating to its holdings on McNabs Island reveals several cryptic references to an agreement between His Majesty King Edward VII (ie: the Imperial War Department) and McNab descendant Alan Cassels (on behalf of the McNab family), dated 16 April 1904, stating that "the conditions of sale or transfer of the area know as Fort McNab must include right of access and egress and use of the cemetery by the living members of the McNab family"
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