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McGuigan Cemetery

This cemetery is one of the oldest burying grounds not only along the Rideau River but in Eastern Ontario. It was used for approximately one hundred years between 1800 and 1900. Unfortunately, there are few written records anywhere either as to its existence or as to who was buried within its confines. The tombstones discovered during its restoration in 1979 and 1980 by the Merrickville and District Historical Society tell only a small part of the role it played in the history of the area.

It was named after Miles McGuigan, an Irishman who served in the Peninsular War under Wellington in the 81st Regiment and who was later wounded at Waterloo. As an army pensioner after the War of 1812 he married the widow Leahy, who owned the land, a Crown Grant, on which the cemetery is located. Legend has it that he was buried here but his grave has never been found. The oldest known grave is that of Samuel McRae, one of the earliest pioneers of the Lower Rideau Settlement.

Phoebe Chester, Frederick Weedmark's first wife is buried in this cemetery. It is possible that Frederick, as well as Frederick Alfred and Susannah are also buried here. According to records found at the Anglican Diocese of Ontario Archives in Kingston, Ontario, Frederick Jr. was buried in Chester's Burial Ground on June 4th, 1899. Was the McGuigan Cemetery known as Chester's Burial Ground at the turn of the century?


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