Somewhere on the Internet, in a discussion about an early John Vargason, it is written that, “My cousin told me that in Quebec she was shown the grave of the first man buried in the oldest cemetery there. It was of a sea captain who died in the harbor.” As far as I know, this statement has never been investigated, so, on a recent trip to Quebec City, I explored the early cemeteries there. (Quebec, of course, is a province, and a very big one, at that. I believe that Quebec has been interpreted as Quebec City by most family researchers adopting the above statement as fact.)
I visited the four oldest cemeteries in the city, according to my research, to see what I could find:
1) The Cote de la Montagne Cemetery in Old Quebec is called the “first Quebec City cemetery” by the “Official Tourist Guide 2013-2014” for Quebec City and Area, published by Tourisme Quebec. This cemetery was in use from 1608-1670. The graves are marked by one simple cross today. Information Centre representatives told me that there is no list of names of those buried there.
2) The Indian Cemetery at the Maison des Jesuites de Sillery contains a monument and wooden crosses to honor the unnamed who are buried here. This was the cemetery of the first Jesuit mission, founded to convert First Nations people.
3) The Quebec General Hospital Cemetery is the burial ground of over one thousand soldiers, sailors, and Canadian militias of Montcalm’s army. It is very small, 150 feet x 250 feet, and is still in use today. Large plaques list the names of some of those buried here. There is no one by the name of Vargason in any of its variant forms included on the plaques.
4) St. Matthew’s Cemetery was in use from 1771 to 1860. It contains the oldest preserved tombstone in Canada, that of Alexander Cameron, an officer of the 78th Fraser Highlanders who died in 1759, before the cemetery actually began. The protestant St. Matthew’s Church has been turned into a library, and in the library is a book called Les Cimetieres de Quebec by Pierre-Georges Roy, published in Levis in 1941. It lists the graves in this cemetery. Although there are many sea captains buried here, none has a name resembling Vargason.
If any reader has further information concerning a Quebec connection to the Vargason’s, I would like to hear from you.