Bethel United Church
SE Lot 32, Broken Front Concession, Trafalgar Township.
West Street, (Bronte) Oakville.
GPS 43.38623°N, –79.7135°W
History: Probably one of the oldest cemeteries in Trafalgar Township, Bronte Cemetery is located at the south-western extremity of Bronte Village near the lake at the end of West Street. The first burial to take place in the Cemetery was that of Hannah S. Haviland, aged 4 weeks, who died on 28 October 1823.
One of the earliest settlers to arrive at the mouth of the Twelve (now Bronte Village) was Philip Sovereign and his family. Of Palatine German descent, he had arrived in 1814 from Sussex County, New York, by way of Waterford in the District of Upper Canada. Their farm extended along the lakefront west of the Indian Reserve on the old Lake Road. Philip died on 2 July 1833 aged 55 years. His son Charles farmed on this land until his death on 21 Dec 1885. Both he and his father are buried in Bronte Cemetery.
Another early Bronte settler was John Belyea who was a United Empire Loyalist of Dutch or Palatine German extraction from Philipsburg, Westchester County, New York. The story of the Belyea Family and its flight to seek refuge in Canada is typical of the hardships faced by the numerous other Bronte area families which fled the United States during the War of Independence. John Belyea died 14 April 1825 aged 50 years. He is buried in Bronte Cemetery with his young son Benjamin.
The following early settlers’ names appear in Bronte Cemetery: Adams, Belyea, Butler, Dorland, Lucas, MacDonald, McWane, Osborne, Ribble, Sovereign, Triller and Williams.
Both Bronte Village and the Cemetery have been taken over by the City of Oakville. The Cemetery, which was recorded on 18 March 1981 had been ravaged by vandals; 7 stones were broken off their bases and missing, 2 leaned against a tree and many stones were badly overgrown with grass and almost illegible.
Designated as an historical site under the Heritage Act of Ontario, October 1987. The cemetery history has been compiled from: “The Story of Bronte Harbour” by Philip Brimacombe, Book #2 of Halton County Series, printed by the Boston Mills Press. [by Jane Watt]
Transcriptions of this cemetery are available on-line by credit card from the O.G.S. web site – click here for price/order.