Brussels Cemetery the final resting place for 140 years of residents
Now sitting at 15.8 acres, Brussels Cemetery is Morris Township’s largest and most frequently-used cemetery.
The cemetery is just south of Brussels in Morris Township on land that was once owned by Robert Burgess. It lies on the north half of Lot 30, Conc. 7 and originally occupied just 4.75 acres, until being expanded to 15.8.
The cemetery serves as the final resting place for several early citizens who played a vital role in shaping the village as it’s seen today, such as John Leckie, the village’s first reeve and William Vanstone, who played a big part in the early development of Brussels.
Prior to 1865, the cemetery was aptly named the New Connection Burial Ground, since it was cared for by members of the New Connection Methodist Church of Brussels until 1865.
The first expansion was negotiated between Rev. Charles E. Stafford of Brussels Methodist Church, a handful of trustees and Mrs. Margaret Burgess in 1875.
The additional land came at a cost of $200 per acre and $100 per additional acre.
At the time, a plot, which was five grave spots, cost $8; and individual graves came at a price of $1.50 each.
When the Brussels Methodist Church joined with the New Connection Methodist Church in 1884, that church cared for the cemetery until 1925, when the church union placed it in the care of the Brussels United Church.
Until the 1940s, upkeep of the memorials as well as the sites were left in the hands of the families of the departed. This was impossible for many families who lived miles away, and had to pay locals to maintain upkeep in their absence.
In the 1940s, the cemetery’s board of trustees began offering a one-time perpetual care cost of $50 to cover upkeep. This cost has now risen to $400 per plot, but it is still a one-time payment.
However, a program initiated in 1982 alleviated the plot owners of the responsibility of the monuments. Then in 1993, the new cemetery act was put in place, further distancing the plot owners from the upkeep of the plots.
The Brussels Cemetery Board now governs over the cemetery. It receives no financial assistance from municipal councils. However, in 1981, the Brussels United Church petitioned council to take over ownership of the property in 1981.
Longtime caretakers of Brussels Cemetery include: Robert Dark, Percy Mitchell and Adrian McTaggart.
Several years ago, a rock and plaque were placed at the cemetery in honour of long-time board member, Jack Bryans.
Across the street from Brussels Cemetery, on the east side of County Road 12 is St. Ambrose Cemetery in Grey Township.
The St. Ambrose Roman Catholic Church purchased the land in late 1914 from Isabella Rands.