70 COSTER STREET
Alexander Mortuary Chapel of All Souls
The Alexander Mortuary Chapel of All Souls in Bonavista is one of two remaining mortuary chapels in Newfoundland. The structure was named after local merchant William Alexander, who provided significant funds to build the chapel. In December 1896, a Bonavista carpenter named Ryder began work on the project; free labour was provided by the congregation. In January 1897 Ronald Strathie, at a cost of $0.15 per hour, replaced Mr. Ryder as overseer of the project.
The chapel was built from locally cut pine and displayed a Gothic style with arched windows. The completed structure had a capacity of between 75 and 100 people. The interior is especially fine with a hammerbeam roof. Traditionally, only men attended funeral services; these occasions were perceived as too much for women to endure.
The chapel is no longer a part of regular Anglican service in Bonavista; however, yearly flower services were still held until 2018. The Anglican Dioceses of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador recognized the tremendous financial burden associated with the upkeep of this chapel and decided to deconsecrate the chapel in 2018. The chapel and lych gate was purchased by Bonavista Creative in 2019 with an agreement to restore and maintain the chapel and allow it for public use.
The entrance to the graveyard features the remains of the original lych gate. Originally this was a structure with a steep gable-roof, but the roof has been removed, and only the corner posts remain. The lych gate was used during the funeral ceremony. As the procession arrived at the graveyard, the pall-bearers would stop the coffin under the gate, where additional prayers were said before they moved into the graveyard proper. With the advent of modern funeral homes, the use of the lych gate declined, and the chapel may have the only remaining lych gate in the province.
hammerbeam - a decorative, open timber roof truss typical of English Gothic architecture