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Community initiatives at Holy Cross Cemetery in Halifax from 2008 to 2013 were organized around a physical restoration program. This work led to a greater awareness of the historical significance of the site for Irish Roman Catholics.

The physical restoration work was conducted under the auspices of the Holy Cross Cemetery Trust, organized for, and dedicated to, that specific purpose. Eventually, however, there was a realization that the opportunities for research and interpretive education were of such a scale as to require the formation of a continuing organization. This charter document outlines the aims and organization of this new association, Holy Cross Historical Trust.


Much of the impetus for this initiative concerns the search for alternatives to support a renewal of civil society. The new attitudes pushing Canadian federal government devolution and withdrawal, the efforts to reconstruct the logic of acculturation of immigrant communities and founding peoples, the call for more sustainable and frugal forms of development, and the need to strengthen the church as a transmission belt for moral tradition, all require a different modus vivendi. The recovery of our history, making it intelligible and accessible to both contemporaries and future generations, opens the door to alternative paths for social reconstruction and renewal.

The repository of information, in this case, is the “communion of saints” implicated at Holy Cross Cemetery – particularly with the seventeen thousand people buried there in the nineteenth century, together with their ancestors and descendants. Although primarily Irish and Roman Catholic, the burials have included those of other ethnicities, races, and faiths. The long-term goal, then, is to improve the understanding of the social practices, institutional organization, and religious and intellectual discourses of the “Holy Cross Community”.

The benefits for the scholar of such an historical laboratory are derived from a system of rich, cumulative research about major intellectual and cultural issues of social life. The benefits for the community relate to the recovery of their own history and religious traditions. Making these traditions intelligible, in accessible forms, provides some of the intellectual capital required for what has become the central task of this generation – the renewal and reconstruction of civil society.

Aims and Purposes

The Trust has as its primary overarching object the promotion of interest in the historic legacy of the Holy Cross Cemetery, located at South Park and South Streets, in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Holy Cross Cemetery which opened in 1843 is the final resting place of approximately 25,000 souls, many who were Irish or of Irish descent.

Board of Trustees

  • Pat Curran, Chair
  • Ronan Holland, Secretary-Treasurer
  • Dan O’Brien, Interpretation Director
  • Don Reardon, Restoration Director
  • Brian Doherty, Trustee
  • Brian O’Brien, Trustee
  • Sheila McCallum, Trustee
  • Ann MacGillivary, Trustee
  • Sandy Phillips, Trustee
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