This cemetery is actually the second Catholic cemetery established within the present boundaries of the Town of Antigonish. The first Catholic church (St. John`s) built in 1810 was located approximately where the Scotiabank is now located.

The cemetery land associated with St. John`s church extended along the South side of Main Street under the present location of the Bergengren Credit Union, the Southern portion of College Street and the Oak Manor building. This area was found unsatisfactory for a cemetery because of periodic flooding. All graves were moved to this site in 1824.

In 1815 the name of St. John`s church was changed to St. Ninian by Bishop Plessis. This new name was not legally recorded under Provincial law until 1829. The Penal Laws, which were in place in Nova Scotia until 1827, prevented Catholics from registering as a religious society.

In 1815 Fr. Remi Gaulin was named the first resident pastor of St. Ninian Parish. In addition he was given charge of Cheticamp and Margaree.

In 1824 Fr. William Fraser, the new parish priest of St. Ninian, purchased this site. He immediately began building a new church and cemetery on this site.

The new church was 72 feet long by 45 feet wide with a steeple 110 feet high. The church could accommodate 800 people. This cemetery was laid out to accommodate 185 plots. Each plot could hold 6 burials, for a total of over 1100 graves.

On June 24,1827 Fr. William Fraser was concentrated the second Bishop of Nova Scotia, in his new church, by Bishop McEachern.

On May 30,1829 Bishop Fraser registered a document of incorporation which “Established in and at the Village of Antigonish a Religious Society being designated as The Chapel of St. Ninian`s”.

The parish at that time included Morristown, Antigonish Harbour, Williams Point, Heatherton, St. Andrews, Lochaber, St. Joseph and North Grant.

Bishop Fraser was named first Bishop of Halifax in 1842 and first Bishop of Arichat in 1844. Bishop Fraser died at Antigonish October 4th, 1851. He was buried in this cemetery. His remains were transferred to the vault under the new St. Ninian Cathedral on October 29,1879.

Colin Francis McKinnon became the second Bishop of Arichat November 11,1851. He continued to live at St. Andrews until 1853 when he moved to Arichat. Bishop McKinnon moved back to Antigonish in 1858 when he built a glebe house next to the church on this site.

In October 1865, when there was nearly 400 families in St. Ninian parish, Bishop McKinnon proposed to a meeting of the parishioners, the idea of building a new stone church. The people considered two sites for the new church. One was the site where St. Martha`s Hospital now stands and the other was the site on which St. Ninian Cathedral is now located.

On Thursday May 27,1875, a Corpus Christi procession was held inside the new St. Ninian Cathedral. The pastor, Fr. Hugh Gillis, offered the first Mass and Bishop McKinnon carried the Blessed Sacrament in the possession that followed.

The old St. Ninian Church on this site was sold in 1879 and turned into the Main Street School.

Burials continued on this site until 1881 when land was acquired for the construction of the present St. Ninian Cemetery.