Beechwood Cemetery

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Beechwood Cemetery
National Historic Site of Canada
Beechwood Cemetery War Memorial.JPG
Cross of Sacrifice erected in honour and memory of all war veterans in 1959
Province Ontario
Area 64.7 hectares (160 acres)
Designated as a NHSC 2001
Architect Moses Chamberlain Edey; Robertson Martin Architects
Architectural style Neo-Gothic
Website Beechwood Cemetery web site

Beechwood Cemetery, located in Ottawa, Ontario, is the National Cemetery of Canada. It is the final resting place for over 75,000 Canadians from all walks of life, such as important politicians like Governor General Ramon Hnatyshyn and Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden, Canadian Forces Veterans, War Dead, members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and men and women who have made a mark on Canadian history. In addition to being Canada's National Cemetery, it is also the National Military Cemetery of Canada and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police National Memorial Cemetery.

A woodland cemetery founded in 1873, it is 64.7 hectares (160 acres) and is the largest cemetery in the city of Ottawa.

Honours and designations[edit]

Beechwood has received various honours and designations because it is recognized as an example of 19th-century rural cemeteries and as a place of national significance and importance as a depository of Canadian history. It was designated as a National Historic Site of Canada in 2001. The cemetery has served as the National Military Cemetery of Canada since 2001[1] and has served since 2004 as the RCMP National Memorial Cemetery.[2] Her Excellency, the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada, opened the Beechwood National Memorial Centre on April 7, 2008.[3]

Pipe Major Sgt Tom Brown is the “on call” piper for the National Military Cemetery at Beechwood where he can perform up to a dozen outdoor funerals a year.[4]

Hall of Colours[edit]

When new colours (flags) are received or a unit is disbanded, colours are treated with utmost respect to military service and are never destroyed. After being carried on parade for the last time, the colour party presents the colours prior to the ceremony in which they are laid up for safekeeping in the Hall of Colours. Designed by Robertson Martin Architects, the Hall of Colours features a memorial stained glass window featuring an oak tree in leaf honouring Canadian military chaplains.[5] The Hall of Colours was supported by a donation of $50,000 from Dominion Command of The Royal Canadian Legion.[6]

The retired colours of Canada's army, air force and naval regiments are mounted at ceiling level in the Hall of Colours in the National Memorial Centre.[7]

  • Royal Canadian Navy's 30-year-old Queen's Colour (2008)
  • 2nd Battalion Royal 22e Régiment Queen's Colour and Regimental Colour
  • 2nd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment Queen's Colour and Regimental Colour[1]
  • 412 Squadron’s retired Standard (2011)[8]
  • Royal Canadian Dragoons' 2nd. Guidon (2012)
  • Les Fusilier du St-Laurent (Queen's Colour and Regimental Colour - 2012)
  • 436 Transport Squadron's retired Standard (2012)
  • 400 Tactical Helicopter Squadron's Standard (2013)
  • 411 Tactical Helicopter Squadron's Standard (2013)
  • 3rd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment's Regimental Colour (2014)

History[edit]

Boy Scouts placing wreaths on the graves of William McDougall and Hewitt Bernard, Fathers of Confederation, in Beechwood Cemetery in 1927 in commemoration of the golden jubilee of Canadian Confederation

Since the Northwest Rebellion of 1885, soldiers who were killed in the line of duty and war veterans have been buried in Beechwood Cemetery. The cemetery contains the National Military Cemetery which consists of two sections managed by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, a Veterans Section owned by Veterans Affairs Canada and the National Military Cemetery of the Canadian Forces, created in 2001 and owned and managed by the federal Department of National Defence.

The first monument in the cemetery was erected by members of the 2nd Ottawa Field Battery in the 1870s. The sculptured sandstone cairn is dedicated to the memory of their former commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel John B. Turner.[9] Erected in the 1870s by members of the 2nd Ottawa Field Battery, a sculptured sandstone statue on shaft is dedicated to the memory of a former commander, Captain James Forsyth.[10]

The cemetery inspired a classic Canadian poem "In Beechwood Cemetery" by Archibald Lampman with its memorable final line, "They know no season but the end of time."[11]

Moses Chamberlain Edey designed the cemetery entrance gates in 1891.[12]

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission is responsible for the graves of 98 Commonwealth (mainly Canadian) service personnel of World War I and 113 of World War II. The commission also maintains the Ottawa Cremation Memorial, in a shelter adjoining the newer of the veterans' plots, which lists 26 personnel who were cremated in Canada and the U.S.A. in World War II.[13]

Noted for its Neo-Gothic architecture, the mausoleum at Beechwood was built in the early 1930s. The building was built by a company separate from the cemetery, Canada Mausoleums Ltd. After a few years of operation, in a time of depression and financial difficulties, the mausoleum became the property of the cemetery. The building features stained glass windows designed by noted stained glass artist James Blomfield.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission erected a memorial, known as a Cross of Sacrifice, incorporating a bronze sword inlayed in a granite cross in memory of the war dead buried in the cemetery's field of honour.[14]

On March 5, 2009 Environment Minister Jim Prentice introduced legislation[15] to designate Beechwood as the National Cemetery of Canada due to "its location here in our national capital, Beechwood serves as a focal point for our national memorial events, including Remembrance Day, and it is an appropriate place to conduct state burials." This was done to "serve as an important symbol of Canadian unity and pride and a means of preserving and promoting Canada's rich history and our diversity."[16] The bill was passed on March 6.[17] The bill received Royal Assent on April 23, 2009.[18]

The multi-faith aspects include a monument to Our Lady of Fatima, a pagoda in the Chinese section of the cemetery and an Aboriginal Tribute Garden.[19]

Interments[edit]

Celtic cross at Beechwood Cemetery

A full list of notable individuals buried at Beechwood can be found on the cemetery's website.[20]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Bibliography
  • McKendry, Jennifer (2003), `Into the silent land : historic cemeteries & graveyards in Ontario`, Kingston, Ontario 
  • Relyea, Dorothy (1991), Burial records of Beechwood cemetery, 1873-1900, Ottawa, Ontario: Ontario Genealogical Society, Ottawa Branch 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 45°26′49″N 75°39′36″W / 45.446945°N 75.659924°W / 45.446945; -75.659924