Holy Cross Cemetery is located in Halifax’s downtown area and is part of St. Mary’s Parish. Developed in 1843, the graveyard had witnessed some 17,000 burials by the end of the nineteenth century. Although Catholics of various ethnic origins are buried within its gates, Holy Cross is the primary resting place for the immigrant generation of Irish-Halifax and has an unmistakable Hibernian character.
The 2500 grave markers presently visible at Holy Cross represent only a fraction of the burials, but the existing stones tell a remarkable story of Irish migration, kinship, and settlement. Surrounded by the markers of priests, politicians, and bishops, the remaining stones are a visible reminder of a generation of Irish migrants who left Eire to build a new life in Nova Scotia.
Now that the physical restoration of the cemetery and chapel is substantially complete, an expanded organization, the Holy Cross Historical Trust is starting a new phase of historical research and interpretative education. The mission of the Trust is to improve the understanding of the social practices, institutional organization, and religious and intellectual life of the people buried in Holy Cross Cemetery. The interpretation of Holy Cross is the Story of the 17,000.
A Volunteer Corps is active in the interpretation effort. An Interpretation Committee is guiding the development of interpretative panels and landscape development. The Database Volunteers are building out the genealogical database we have created about those buried. Together, these people are making a difference.