Until 1828, the bodies of those who died in Bytown were ferried across the Ottawa river to the graveyard in Wrightstown, later renamed Hull. Then half an acre of land in Upper Bytown was set aside as a burial ground; it was bounded by what are now Elgin, Metcalfe, Queen and Sparks streets [Legget 1972]. This burial ground was known as the military graveyard, although many civilians were interred there, and it was located along a southward-looping road which ran from Upper Town to Lower Town. It was surrounded by a fence of cedar logs about ten feet high, sharpened at the upper end, with crosspieces near the top and bottom [Cluff 1922].
In 1830, Louis Theodore Besserer let an acre of land to the Catholic Church for a burial ground, but the graveyard later blocked the extension of Gloucester (later Friel) street onto Besserer’s property. A compromise was reached when a new burial ground was opened in 1839 adjacent to the Protestant ground at the foot of Barrack hill [Elliott 1991]. An old map shows that in 1842 the Roman Catholics had a cemetery at the south-east corner of Rideau and Cumberland streets; it extended almost as far south as Besserer street [Ross 1927].
The so-called Sandy Hill cemetery was in fact located in Lower Town, since it was bounded by George, Cobourg, Heney and Charlotte streets. It was opened in 1844, on land which had been granted by the Ordnance department, and had sections for Anglicans, Presbyterians, Methodists and Roman Catholics. There was a transfer of remains from the Barrack hill cemetery [Relyea 1991]. Charlie Tye had been the gravedigger in both the Queen street cemetery in Upper Town and the Sandy Hill cemetery, and he remembered when the early practice of flat tombstones was replaced by more modern upright tombstones, with a photograph of the deceased inset in the stone behind glass [Ottawa Citizen 27 June 1925].