Rediscover Saint John with the Loyalist Burial Ground Project

Atlantic Repertory Company launched the Loyalist Burial Ground Project this week. Directed by Melissa MacGougan. Featuring Quinn Adams, Sophie Wilcott, Tallas Munro and Caroline Bell. A historical and theatrical walking tour tourists and visitors will love.

Carolyn Trecartin

7/29/2022 4 min read

Atlantic Repertory Company; Tallas Munro, Sophie Wilcott, Caroline Bell, Quinn Adams; Saint John, NB

Photo: Carolyn Trecartin Left to right: Tallas Munro, Sophie Wilcott, Caroline Bell, Quinn Adams

This week, on Wednesday, the Atlantic Repertory Company kicked off its month-long historical walking tours of the city. The Loyalist Burial Ground Project is directed by Melissa MacGougan. Tours begin at 7:30pm in the upstairs of the BMO Studio Theatre at 112 Princess St., Saint John, NB.

Saint John Theatre Company; BMO Studio Theatre; 112 Princess St.

Photo: Carolyn Trecartin

Arrive 10 to 15 minutes early to take in the beauty of the theatre, and to watch a short film that plays on repeat prior to show time. It’s a mid-nineteenth century short film of Saint John from the Seeing Canada Series. It talks a bit about the history of the city and its landmarks.

Photo: Carolyn Trecartin

But the real magic begins when the stars of the show – Quinn Adams, Caroline Bell, Tallas Munro and Sophie Wilcott – emerge to the Space Jam theme song dancing in period clothing. This is certainly unlike any walking tour we’ve ever been on. The costumes, by the way, were fabulous, and were designed by Brenda McLeese.

Photo: Carolyn Trecartin Sophie Wilcott

Atlantic Repertory Company, Tallas Munro, Quinn Adams, Saint John walking tour

Photo: Carolyn Trecartin Left to right: Tallas Munro and Quinn Adams

Once the tour sets off, we cross the street to Trinity Anglican Church. It was founded by 3000 American loyalists, and its current Reverend Scribner, is a descendent of those original loyalists.

As I mentioned earlier, the Loyalist Burial Ground Project is directed by Melissa MacGougan. You might be thinking, “Most walking tours aren’t directed, right?” But as I mentioned, this really is unlike any other city walking tour we’ve seen before. It’s part history, part theatre, and part personal stories from the cast members.

Trinity Anglican Church, Saint John, Atlantic Repertory Company, Caroline Bell, Sophie Wilcott

Photo: Carolyn Trecartin Left to right: Caroline Bell and Sophie Wilcott

They go in and out of character. Each resident artist with Atlantic Repertory Company took turns guiding us on a portion of the tour and usually at each stop there was a ‘bit’, a song or a sketch.

Speaking of, there was plenty of laughing, so, if you’re easily spooked, I want to reassure you that you can still go on this tour! I wondered if the tour might be like the haunted walking tour in Halifax, but it isn’t. It is named the Loyalist Burial Ground, but you don’t hear any ghost stories. Instead, we get to enjoy the stories of the people from the past who may be buried there.

Tallas Munro, Atlantic Repertory Company

Photo: Carolyn Trecartin Tallas Munro

However, there is a content warning in the program. There is discussion of the Great Fire of Saint John as well as of the Young Monument in King Square.

Caroline Bell, Young Monument, King's Square, Saint John, NB

Photo: Carolyn Trecartin Caroline Bell

The story of the Young monument was tragic. I didn’t know it until I attended the tour. I want to share it with you but go and hear it from the tour guides yourselves! I will say that it is the only monument in Saint John which the public petitioned the city for in memory of one of its heroes.

Now if you’re from Saint John, will you see any new landmarks? Probably not. But you will learn something new, and you will have a grand time for only $10.

Photo: Carolyn Trecartin Sophie Wilcott

A note on accessibility: The BMO Studio Theatre has an elevator if stairs are difficult or not an option for you. The rest of the tour is really all on level ground. So, if you’re worried about navigating Saint John’s notorious hills on this tour, don’t be. They cross the street, usually at cross walks. They do go, of course, from sidewalk to parking lot to park path, etc. But there are no stairs or other major impediments for people with mobility issues. The distance travelled on the tour is approximately half a kilometer. Consider it one kilometer round trip. There are also periods of standing.

Quinn Adams, Loyalist Burial Ground Project, Atlantic Repertory Company

Photo: Carolyn Trecartin Quinn Adams

There’s still an entire month to catch a show. The tour is one hour long. It finishes on time too, so it’s the perfect way to start an evening in the Uptown if you want to check out some live music or grab a drink after. It would also be a great activity for families visiting the city to end their day.

Plus, what’s cooler than supporting local artists working in this city!? It wasn’t long ago at all that people had to leave the city to pursue such acting opportunities. Huge props to Stephen Tobias, Atlantic Repertory Company’s Artistic Director, and its other supporters for helping to open doors for these young professionals and the next generation. To learn more visit ARC’s website. Grab your tickets here!