PostHeaderIconShaver Cemetery News Update

Submitted by admin on Mon, 2017-08-21 19:10

History of William and Mary Catherine

Shaver Family CemeteryWilliam E. Shaver (1771-1830) was the second son of John Shaver and his first wife Katrinka. He was born in New Jersey, USA, and came to Canada with his father, stepmother Mary Magdalena, and their other children as Loyalists about 1783, settling near Williamsburg, north of the St. Lawrence River west of Cornwall. By 1789 they had made their way to Ancaster where they settled and farmed. In 1797 William got the Crown Patent for Lot 35, Concession 3, where he cleared the land, and built a log house and stable. In 1798 he married Mary Catharine Book (1776-1845), the daughter of Loyalists. They had 13 children. By the time William died in 1830 he was a prosperous man, owning 1600 acres of land, enough land to give each of his eight sons a farm. Mary Catharine survived her husband by 15 years, dying in 1845.

Founding and History of Cemetery

Family CemeteryWilliam and Mary Catharine were buried across the road from their home. In 1848, their children erected a walled cemetery around them to honour them and provide a burial place for other family members. A stone plaque was inset in the west wall which reads: "This cemetery was erected AD. 1848 as a token of filial affection and respect by the 13 children of William and Mary Catharine Shaver who settled this farm in 1798, it being then a wilderness."

The last burial in the cemetery occurred in 1938 and there are approximately 65 people buried here. The cemetery was closed to new burials shortly thereafter.

In 1993 the cemetery was designated a Heritage Property under the Ontario Heritage Act with the intention of preserving the following features:

  1. the stone retaining wall surrounding the cemetery,
  2. the memorial plaque located on the eastern [sic] portion of the retaining wall, and
  3. the memorial monuments and markers located within the cemetery.

Current Condition of the Cemetery

The limestone ashlars of the cemetery walls were completely repointed in the 1980s. Unfortunately cement mortar was used rather than the original lime mortar. Lime mortar, which would have been used in the original construction, is more flexible than cement-based mortar and is more water permeable. When hairline cracks form they are resealed by lime deposits in the water. Therefore water is not trapped behind the wall and the mortar is self-healing. With cement mortar moisture inside the wall becomes trapped. Water pressure behind the wall produces hairline cracks open almost immediately between the mortar and the stones. Since they do not reseal, deterioration accelerates. This explains why the walls have deteriorated faster in the last couple of decades.

The heavy rains in the spring and early summer of 2017 saturated the ground inside the walls, pushing the stones outward and causing partial collapse of the south wall. This must be repaired before winter so that more severe damage does not occur. The other walls are also affected but not as severely and the need for repair is not as urgent and may be put off for subsequent years.

Shaver Family Cemetery - South wall deteriorating

While the family has recognized for some time that the walls were slowly deteriorating, we have not previously had the resources to enact repairs.
Unfortunately the unusually heavy rains we have had this past spring and summer have taken a heavy toll, particularly on the south wall, and we have now reached a critical juncture.
Through emergency fundraising within the family over the past six weeks, we have secured sufficient funds to complete a rebuild of the south wall, including repairs to or new footings if required as well as additional drainage to help avoid similar problems in the future.
We are requesting a heritage permit to complete the rebuilding of the south wall this fall, starting as soon as possible, before the weather becomes sufficiently cold so as to preclude it.

Where do we go from here?

In mid-August the executive of the Shavers of Ancaster met and voted to permit the Cemetery Committee to do the following:

  1. to obtain any required permits from various levels of government,
  2. to contract with engineering, masonry and other companies as required to complete necessary heritage repairs to the cemetery, primarily to the walls,
  3. to arrange a public blessing ceremony before rebuilding begins,
  4. to establish a perpetual investment program to ensure funding for current and future cemetery maintenance and upkeep,
  5. to develop a perpetual fundraising strategy, including both grant funds and direct public appeals for support
  6. to develop plans for future development of the cemetery properties as a public space.

We will keep you informed of further developments.

Shaver Family Cemetery - South wall deteriorating - 2017-06-14

June 14, 2017

Shaver Family Cemetery - South wall deteriorating - 2017-06-27

June 27, 2017