By Devonna Edwards, Columnist
Not many motorists who travel this main road are aware of the rich history in the area. Until 1766, the only way to reach the Dutch Village (Fairview) from Halifax was by a narrow well-beaten path that branched off Windsor Street near where the North Blockhouse once stood and ran through the center of what is now the Fairview Cemetery, that part of the old road is still in existence today. The road continued south-southwest past Stanford’s Upper Pond (now railway tracks) and east of Little Deal’s Pond, once located on the now Joseph Howe Drive, close to Bayers Road. It then swung west, leading into the center of the Dutch Village (Fairview) lots. It was closed as a public road in 1894 when the Fairview Cemetery was established. is ancient road was known as the Scott Road and occasionally as the Blockhouse Road. Thee German settlers from the Dutch Village petitioned for a new and shorter road to their settlement and as a result Bayers Road was continued from near the site of the Middle Blockhouse (corner of Connaught Ave. and Bayers Road) till it joined the original road near Deal’s Little Pond. In the Halifax City Directory for 1902 and 1912 Bayers Road ran from Oxford Street to Dutch Village Road, but by 1922 it read that Bayers Road ran from Windsor Street to Dutch Village Road.
Bayers Road was named after a German settler who had the last name Bayer and owned a considerable amount of property in the area. The original 94 acre property was granted to Col. Frederick Hamilton but he sold it to George Bayer on Feb. 6, 1764 and George later added another 80 acres to his property. George Bayer (Bayers, Beyer) emigrated from Rotterdam, Germany on board the Pearl in 1751 and landed in Halifax. He started a bakery which became quite successful after he obtained a contract to supply the many ships on station with soft bread and he also supplied the troops posted in Halifax at that time. The original George Bayers farm was located on the west side of Windsor Road (Windsor Street) on the outskirts of the town’s settlement. The original house he lived in was built in 1765 and contained part of an older log cabin built by Col. Hamilton to which an addition was added to its northeast end. It was located some four hundred yards north of the present day Bayers Road at a place called “ The Willow”, about 493 yards north of Young Street. The house burnt down about 1867. When George Bayer died, his 176 acre property passed on to his second son Phillip, who was a trapper and trader in furs with the Mi’Kmaq and who lived in the old house at “ The Willows”. His only son John died before his father and after Phillip’s death about 1838-39, the property was divided into two parts, the original homestead and north section going to his elder grandson John, who married a daughter of the well-known Titus Smith ( The Dutch Village Philosopher) and whose son was Rufus Bayer. The southern part became the property of his other grandson Thomas Bayer who built a picturesque house on the north side of Bayers Road in 1838, about eight hundred feet west of Oxford Street. Bayers Road was just a narrow dirt road which ran in front of his old homestead. The house was destroyed by re in November of 1939.
Pine Croft Cemetery also known as the Paupers Cemetery
The very old Protestant cemetery was located on Bayers Road approximately where the Vincent Coleman Apartments are today and extended over to and beyond Romans Avenue and went back as far as where the Fairview Lawn Cemetery is today. At one time Fairview Lawn Cemetery (established in 1893) extended from Windsor Street to Bayers Road. Pine Croft Cemetery stood next to where the West End Cemetery is today.
In 1894 the City of Halifax gave the private Fairview Cemetery Company, the sum of $6,000 to bury Protestant paupers in the cemetery facing Bayers Road and also gave them $2.00 for each grave to pay the grave diggers.
In 1944 the City of Halifax took over the Fairview Lawn Cemetery property and moved some graves from Pine Croft Cemetery on Bayers Road, further back into the Fairview Cemetery. Only the graves which had tombstones were moved, but many in the old graveyard did not have markers, so they were plowed over. When St. Andrew’s School was being built in 1954, several human skulls were found. Caretakers from the Fairview Lawn Cemetery buried the bones. An old resident of the area was quoted as saying that about 30 people were buried there in the pasture and those who died in the Poor House were buried there without stones.
In 1955 Ethyl Cameron said she remembered the Pine Croft Cemetery well from her childhood. She said there were no burials there since 1905. She described the graveyard as having a fence around it, with an arched gate facing Bayers Road and the named Pine Croft Cemetery painted in gold letters on a board. There were tombstones, crosses and slabs along with several baby stones. Ethyl was outraged that the city was disturbing the cemetery to build a school. St. Andrew’s School was opened in opened in 1956 and closed in 1982. In 1998 HRM sold the property on the school site. The school was demolished, but part of the school remained and functioned as St. Andrews Recreational Centre.
In 2010 unidentified human remains were unearthed in an unmarked grave at a construction site in near St. Andrew’s Community Centre on Bayers Road. Police were called in and after the Medical Examiner’s report, the remains were reburied at Fairview Lawn Cemetery. A temporary halt to the excavation began until an Archaeological dig was completed in a small area but their report revealed that no other remains were discovered.
In 1998 an act to provide for the protection of cemeteries was past, called The Cemetery Protection Act and Special Places Protection Act.
The West End Cemetery is a small fenced in burial site located next to the Vincent Coleman Apartment building on Bayers Road. The Cemetery contains 133 people interred there, of which 124 of them are the unidentified victims of the Halifax Explosion in 1917 and a large monument stands there in remembrance of them. The other nine graves in the small graveyard are members of the Johnson family, who purchased burial plots there in 1931 and George Johnson was the last interred there in 1982.
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