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Brake's Point Cemetery



In the early history of settlement in the Bay of Islands, a cemetery was located on what was known as “The Beach” or “Brake’s Point” at Riverhead (now Humbermouth). As far as I have been able to find out, it is not known how many persons were buried here, but the following references give us a little insight into the possibilities.

According to the first item written by Mr. Meaney, some of the graves may have dated back to the early 1820s. In 1839, Jukes recorded 80 year old Ralph Brake, with a family of 6, living at Brake’s Point.

According to the items below that were published in the Western Star, we know that some members of the Brake and Loader families were buried there. Local residents believe that graves were never moved from this cemetery to be relocated to another. A search of subsequent years of the Western Star provided no further details of the fate of the cemetery.

The location of the cemetery is often described by those still living as being west of John & Granny Park’s house. As I understand it, John Park, and his wife, Ida Marshall (known as Granny Park), lived in the double dwelling which was originally owned by the Brake family. John William Park died in 1950. After that time, Ida moved into a smaller house near the Penny property. She died in 1978, at the age of 94. They are both buried in the Anglican Cemetery, Townsite, Corner Brook.

Land-marks on the Humber
By D.F. Meaney, Humbermouth

Part of an article published in Colonial Commerce Vol XXVI No 11, St John’s, NFLD, October 31st, 1917

“ There is not a ripple on the waters of the Humber Arm; the sky is bright and clear as we start out from Humbermouth this July morning on a trip up the Humber . The steamship Ethie, of Bay of Islands-Battle Harbor route, is at the railway pier, and Chief Officer Harbin, so well known on the coast after twenty years service, waves us “Good Luck” …………

…… A few minutes run for our motor boat and we are passing Brake’s Point. My companion remarks that the little brown building on the beach nearby was the first place of public worship in Humbermouth. The building was erected through the efforts of that great Missionary Priest the late Rev. J.L. Curling (sic), of the Church of England, in whose honor the town of Birchy Cove, Bay of Islands, was renamed Curling a few years ago.

This little building, having served the double purpose of church and school for over forty years, is now too small for present-day requirements will shortly be replaced by a large and more modern structure by the Rev. Mr. Petley.

A few headstones and quite a number of graves can be seen near the church-school, but those graves were made many years before the Rev. Mr. Curling arrived in Newfoundland, and not one of those resting there laid eyes upon the “Little Brown Church” referred to. One headstone bears nearly a century old date, but many of the earlier graves are unmarked.

The double dwelling house on the Point near the church was erected by the first settlers of the place and is still occupied by families of the same name, some of the occupants – grand-children of the first settlers – having now reached the allotted span.

During the years that have elapsed the strong tide of the Humber has thrown up a great ridge of sand in front of those graves – the river’s monument, as it were, to those sleeping pioneers: the first white men to fish and sail these waters.


Western Star, Friday, June 3rd, 1960


Century old graves, their contents exposed by the erosion of the sea in the Humbermouth area, may be dug up and moved to the other side of Bay of Islands.

The sea, lapping the shore line, exposed the burial ground recently. Located in Brake’s Cove, it was never consecrated. One casket exposed within the past several days is expected to be removed shortly. It is believed others have actually been washed away and carried out to sea.
Three headstones have been discovered. Manufactured by a Halifax firm, they indicate settlers in the Bay of Islands area traded directly with Halifax a century ago.

The headstones bear the names of Edward Brake who died in 1853 at the age of 42; Robert Brake, who died Dec. 25, 1855; and William Henry Loder who died May 23, 1858. It is said Mr. Loder was the first member of that family to settle at Summerside where many of the same name now live.

Thomas Brake, 83, of Humbermouth, told the Star he can remember his father talking about the burial ground. It is believed services were conducted, including burials, by laymen. Rev. Guy Fowlow, rector of the Church of St. John the Evangelist, said remains of persons buried in the area will be re-interred in the new Anglican cemetery at Wild Cove as they become visible due to the continuing eroding action of the sea.

Info underneath photo taken by Mr. Bouzanne:

BURIED MORE THAT A CENTURY AGO: These headstones in memory of (left) Edward Brake, who died at the age of 42, in 1853, and Robert Brake who died Dec 15, 1855, show that some of the caskets are being washed out in the beach at Brake’s Cove, Humbermouth were buried more than 100 years ago. These graves have been uncovered recently by the erosion of the land by the sea.

Western Star, Thursday, June 9, 1960


Graves recently exposed by the sea in the Humbermouth area will not be re-interred at the Anglican Cemetery at Wild Cove as had been originally planned.

Rev. Guy Fowlow, rector of the Church of St. John the Evangelist, said Wednesday that this will not be necessary as most of the remains have been washed out to sea. He added that a fence will now be erected around the graveyard and the ground built up to prevent any other graves from being uncovered.

Three headstones were discovered at Brake’s Cove recently and from the inscriptions on the stones they were found to be over 100 years old.

The graves were apparently uncovered by the sea washing against the shore line and gradually wearing away the topsoil.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Special thanks to Freeman Brake, Jim Warford and Daphne Park for providing me with some of the information for this article.


Transcribed and contributed by Linda Elkins-Schmitt (July 2008)

Page Last Modified March 06, 2013 (Craig Peterman)

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