History, Ancestry and Genealogy. These three words have taken on a new life in the past quarter century. While many of the Orillia congregations are of 5th and 6th generation pioneer stock, there were also many people who moved east, west, north or south away from the immigrant family circle. It is a fact that when people attend anniversaries or homecomings they have a definite connection with the place and event.
One thing that had to be given consideration in every early pioneer settlement was a burial ground. The Presbyterians set up a cemetery on Peter Street running half way down the west side from Colborne Street. This is the site where the Bell Telephone Company once had its offices. With the opening of St. Andrew’s and St. James’ Cemetery, the bodies from the old cemetery were re-interred in the new cemetery.
In 1873 St. James’ Anglican and the Presbyterians (St. Andrew’s) jointly purchased land for a new cemetery. A total of 11 1/4 aces were purchased from the estate of Marcus McMullen. The Presbyterians were buried on one side of the driveway through the cemetery and the Anglicans on the other side. However, by 1907 the Presbyterians side, which also was used by other denominations, was filling up. Six additional acres were purchased from the Donaldson farm. The Presbyterians shared this purchase with St. James.
The chapel and vault or mortuary were erected by the Presbyterian trustees in 1910 and have been used by both congregations. Also, in 1920 the name Presbyterian was changed to St. Andrew’s Cemetery. In 1914 the cemetery gates were built and have since been remodeled. The cemetery operated under separate boards, or committees until December 1945. Then the boards amalgamated and the name became St. Andrew’s – St. James’ Cemetery Board.
From the inception of the cemetery in 1873, the administration has been under several superintendents:
- J.L. Rose – 1897 – 1903
- F. W. Glover 1903 – 1939
- William Ward 1939 – 1945,
- Sydney Daniels 1946 – 1964
- J. Austin Boadway 1964 – 1976
- Ronald G. Huffman 1976 – 1996
- Lana Spencer 1996 – 2003
- Nicole McNaughton 2003 – 2013,
- Stephanie Worthington 2013 – present
Prior to Mr. Rose’s appointment in 1897, the working of the cemetery was looked after by a committee from each of the congregations. The cemetery today is administered by an eight person board with four representatives from each church.
The cemetery now extends over 48 acres; thirty-nine of those containing in excess of 25,000 burials with nine acres available for future generations.