Mount Hermon Cemetery in Quebec City (1848-1950)
By Rénald Lessard, archivist.
Archives nationales du Québec in the city of Québec.
Adaptation and translation with permission from the author by Jacques Gagné
In January of 1848, seventeen leading Protestant citizens of the city of Québec and of surrounding districts, would gather with the purpose of forming an association, the latter with a two-fold goal in the management of Protestant cemeteries of the region. The first, named The Quebec Protestant Cemetery Association was launched as a management tool for all Protestant cemeteries of the city of Québec plus those of the immediate region in addition to those located in the eastern portion of the province. The second part of this mandate dealt with the creation of a new and larger Protestant cemetery within the confine of the city of Québec. The name of Mount Hermon Cemetery was selected, and it was determined that it would have to be located within the Parish of Saint Columban of Sillery (Saint-Colomban de Sillery), the latter being in the present Parish of Saint Michael (Saint-Michel). The estate in question was located at the corner of Côte de l'Église and Chemin Saint-Louis. On June 15th 1848, Christopher Ferguson, age 42, staff member on the sailing ship Transit, died from erysipelas and would become the first person to be buried at Mount Hermon.
In the Spring of 1849, the government of Lower Canada would officially incorporate the said cemetery as a resting place uniquely for people who professed to be Protestants. Between June of 1848 and December of 1883, of the 6,164 registrations recorded, 2,991 individuals were members of the Anglican Church, 1,117 were members of the Presbyterian Church and 583 were members of the Methodist Church.
In 1860, the Protestant cemetery located next to Saint Matthew's Church, in the district of St-Jean (faubourg Saint-Jean), the latter located on rue Saint-Jean would close. The cemetery in question was burdened with an over population due to the lack of acreage and being located in a dense residential district of the city. The leadership of the Methodist Church and of the Presbyterian Church decided to close their cemetery and from the early 1860's onwards, Protestants of all denominations were only buried at Mount Hermon Cemetery.
The obligatory registration process for Protestant burials of the region was mandated by law in 1849. The said act was drawn up in most parts by members of the management team of Mount Hermon. The said act; The Register of Interments in Mount Hermon Cemetery began in 1848 and would cease in 1950. The existence and the excellence of quality of this registry can only be attributed to the initiative of numerous volunteers from the region. From 1848 to 1938, the Mount Hermon Registry does include the causes of deaths of 12,200 individuals buried within the confine of this cemetery. The latter registry contains the following: numbering system assigned to each burial, family name and first name, date of burial, location of lot, date of death, age of the person buried, location of death (city, town or village), location of birth, Protestant denomination, name of Minister or Pastor, occupation of deceased, illness (sickness) or causes of death and finally, comments.
This precious register offers a glimpse into the medical and social status of the citizens of the city of Québec and of its surrounding regions during a period of time of nearly 100 years. With the exception of Coroner's Reports and a limited number of Government Census, very few sourves of the 19th century offers a glimpse or an exactitude as to the causes of death or the circumstances surrounding a particuliar death. Although, the content of the said Register at Mount Hermon is exceptional in details, it is not unique in this country, the Cemetery of Toronto, referred to at the time as the Necropolis, opened in 1850, and the latter burial place kept similar registers. Some of the causes of death of the period for both cemeteries were referred to as; bilious fever, liver pains, consumption, smallpox, dysentery, scarlet fever, anazark, whooping cough, denture related illness, exhausted conditions. In regard to cases of drowning or murders, these are also listed as the causes of death within the pages of this register. Other cases dealing with tragic deaths are also indicated in the Registers of Mount Hermon Cemetery. As a point in case, 253 individuals would perish as a result of a fire on a sailing vessel by the name of Montreal, the latter which sank on the St. Lawrence River at the mouth of the Cap Rouge River on June 26th, 1857, 180 individuals from a total of 253, deemed to be Protestants were buried at Mount Hermon Cemetery.
For those interested in genealogy, the content of the Mount Hermon Register is invaluable in its totality, it does offer the causes of death, which are not available to the public at large through the Civil Registers. In addition, the mention of age of most of the deceased persons within that time frame, the type of work a person did, the country of origin of the deceased are indicated in many if not most cases. An additional but extremely important factor deals with people who are not listed in the official Civil Registers; local Protestants or from the surrounding regions who somehow were left-out of the Civil Registers but are listed in the Registers of Mount Hermon. Also listed are the Protestants in transit through the region of the city of Québec, the latter group of people might have originated from Ireland, Scotland, England, Norway, Germany, the USA or from various British Colonies. The names of those who died in the city of Quebec from 1848 to 1950 without ever having a permanent address within the city or surrounding regions are most likely not found on any other registers or indexes.
The preceeding text was researched by Rénald Lessard and it is hoped that other precious documents dealing with the Anglo Protestants of the city of Québec will be forthcoming.
Additional comments by Jacques Gagné
Fortunately, QFHS within the confine of their library in Pointe Claire does own the microfilm of Mount Hermon Cemetery covering the period of 1848 to 1950 - Microfilm # NAQ M 211-1, published by the Archives nationales du Québec - The content of this easily readable film was compiled and regrouped into two portion:
> Part One of the microfilm deals with an alphabetical compilation, which includes the name of the person, cemetery section, lot #, grave # (the latter numbering system is being used as a guideline for the Part Two compilation), date of burial (year, month, date) and remarks (such as "nee Mary Gray" or "nee Rita Houghton")
> Part Two of the microfilm deals with grave # (referred to in this portion of the microfilm as Number - see part one for details under grave #), date of interment (year, month, day), where buried (in section #, in lot #, public ground grave #), date of death (month, day), age, place of death, place of birth, religious denomination, officiating Clergyman, occupation, disease or cause of death, remarks (such as died on board ship or removed from St. Matthew's Ground)
This microfilm is most likely the most important microfilm kept at the QFHS Library, not only will it give you the information needed in order to determine the various causes of death of your ancestors but also it might shed light on your elusive ancestor who never established a permanent residence in the city of Québec but somehow died in that city and was buried at Mount Hermon Cemetery.