Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery

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Cimetière Notre-Dame-des-Neiges
Front entrance, Cimetière Notre-Dame-des-Neiges
Established 1854
Location 4601, chemin de la Côte-des-Neiges
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
H3V 1E7
Type originally Roman Catholic, open to Christian burials
Size 343 acres (139 ha)
Number of graves 65,000+
Number of interments 1 million
Website Official website
Designated 1999

Founded in 1854, Cimetière Notre-Dame-des-Neiges is a 343-acre (139 ha) cemetery located in the borough of Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The entrance and the grounds run along a part of Côte-des-Neiges road and up the slopes of Mount Royal. Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery is the largest cemetery in Canada and the third-largest in North America.[1]

History and description[edit]

Created on property purchased from Dr. Pierre Beaubien, the new cemetery was a response to growing demand at a time when the old Saint-Antoine Cemetery (near the present Dominion Square) had become too small to serve Montreal’s rapidly increasing population.[2] Founded in 1854 as a garden cemetery in the French style, it was designed landscape architect Henri-Maurice Perreault, who studied rural cemeteries in Boston and New York.[3] On May 29, 1855, thirty-five year old Jane Gilroy McCready, wife of Thomas McCready, then a Montreal municipal councilor, was the first person to be buried in the new cemetery.[4]

Notre-Dame-des-Neiges is the largest cemetery in Canada with more than 55 kilometres of lanes and one million people interred.[5] The Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery site has over 65,000 monuments and 71 family vaults.[6]

The cemetery originally served Roman Catholics and rural French Canadians. It is now open to any Christian, though it continues to be a Catholic institution and serve a primarily Catholic community. (There are also two Jewish cemeteries on Mont Royale.)Italian, Portuguese, Japanese, Orthodox Greek, Polish, Ukrainian and Huron are also represented, indicated in many instances by ethnic motifs on gravestones.[3] The cemetery shares the mountain with the predominantly English-speaking and originally Protestant adjacent burial ground, the Mount Royal Cemetery. These two abutting cemeteries on the slopes of Mount Royal contain a total of 1.5 million burials.

"La Pietà Mausoleum" contains a life-sized marble reproduction of Michelangelo's Pietà sculpture (original located in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican). Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1998 and plaqued in 2004.[7][8]

No burials or cremations took place between May 16, 2007, and September 11, 2007, because of a labour strike. The interments of more than 300 bodies were affected.[9] In addition, its uncut, unkempt grass became a symbol of the labour dispute.

Due to its vast size, locating a specific grave can be difficult. As a result, the cemetery now offers a computerized mapping service that allows visitors to quickly and accurately locate graves. It can be accessed at the cemetery using a touch screen display or via the Internet.[5]

War Graves[edit]

The only opening in the fence between the Notre Dame des Neiges and Mount Royal cemeteries is where two adjoining military sections are. Shortly after World War I, to emphasize the comradeship and uniformity of sacrifice of Protestant and Catholic soldiers, the Imperial War Graves Commission insisted on an open passage between the two plots and the Cross of Sacrifice was erected.[10] There are 445 identified Commonwealth service war grave burials commemorated here, 252 from World War I and 215 from World War II.[11] Those whose graves could not be individually marked are named on bronze plaques attached to the Cross of Sacrifice. The Quebec Memorial on the National Field of Honour at Pointe-Claire lists 24 servicemen buried here, whose graves could no longer be marked or maintained, as alternative commemorations.

New mausoleums[edit]

Every mausoleum in Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery contains multiple crypts, clearly identified, as well as columbaria with glass or marble niches for one or more urns. The first mausoleum, Notre Dame, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, was built in 1978. The others were added gradually in the years that followed: John-Paul II (1980), Saint-Francis (1982), Marguerite-Bourgeoys (1983), The Pietà (1985), Saints Peter and Paul (1989), Sainte Clare of Assisi (1994), the two-storey Saint Marguerite d’Youville (1996) and most recently, Esther-Blondin (2007).[12]

Opened in November 2007, the Esther Blondin Mausoleum, named after the founder of the Sisters of Saint Anne, houses 6,000 burial crypts and niches.

Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery[edit]

Notable interments[edit]

The cemetery is the final resting place for a number of former mayors of the city of Montreal plus other prominent persons including:

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 45°30′07″N 73°36′23″W / 45.50182°N 73.606521°W / 45.50182; -73.606521