Mount Royal Cemetery

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Mount Royal Cemetery
Mount Royal Cemetery gate.jpg
Mount Royal Cemetery Gate in 1895
Mount Royal Cemetery is located in Quebec
Mount Royal Cemetery
Established 1852
Location Outremont, Montreal
Country Canada
Coordinates 45°30′33″N 73°35′53″W / 45.509123°N 73.598005°W / 45.509123; -73.598005
Type Protestant cemetery, now non-denominational
Size 165 acres (67 ha)
Number of graves 200,000
Website Official website
Designated 1999

Opened in 1852, Mount Royal Cemetery is a 165-acre (67 ha) terraced cemetery on the north slope of Mount Royal in the borough of Outremont, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The burial ground shares the mountain with the much larger adjacent Roman Catholic cemetery -- Cimetière Notre-Dame-des-Neiges. Mount Royal Cemetery is now bordered on the southeast by Mount Royal Park, on the west by Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery and on the north by two Jewish cemeteries.

Although the cemetery is non-denominational today, it continues to be governed by its original charter with a board of trustees representing the founding Protestant denominations.

The cemetery is a private non-profit organization. Burial rights have always been offered in perpetuity with the commitment that no graves would ever be reused or abandoned. The founding charter stipulates that all profits should be entirely devoted to the embellishment and improvement of the property.

Mount Royal Cemetery is in operation and even the old portion of the cemetery still has some burial sites available.[1]

History and description[edit]

In the middle of the 1800s, the cemeteries located downtown needed space desperately. Concerned with epidemics and public health issues, these cemeteries had to be developed elsewhere.The Protestant community of Montreal purchased, in 1851, a section of Mount Royal that belonged to Dr. Michael McCulloch.

The Mount Royal Cemetery, one of the first rural cemeteries in North America, was incorporated in 1847 under an Act of the Provincial Parliament of Canada. Following the trend of the American rural cemetery movement, the purpose of choosing land on the mountain was to use the natural surroundings to combine horticulture and commemoration in perpetuity. The original landscaping plan laid out the site in a series of terraces which followed the natural curves of the mountain. One issue of importance at its founding was the Anglican desire to provide consecrated ground for burial. It was consecrated June 8, 1854 by the Anglican bishop Francis Fulford, after the first burial of Reverend William Squire, a Methodist minister, on October 19, 1852.

Administered by 21 Trustees elected as representatives of the six founding denominations, it is open to persons of all faiths and races. There are areas for war veterans, sailors, and various benevolent organizations that purchased lots subsidized by The Mount Royal Cemetery Company. The St. Andrew's Society, one such organization, buried 15 Scottish casualties who were aboard the steamboat "Montreal" when she caught fire and sank near Quebec City in 1857.[1]

From the time it opened in 1852, the Mount Royal Cemetery saw several different landscapes depending on the period. Throughout the Victorian Era, society was deeply embedded in the Romantic period where monuments and mausoleums were elaborate and built with expensive materials such as granite etc. At the beginning on the 20th century, Ormiston Roy became the cemetery’s superintendent and saw the exaggeration death by the earlier generation was “narcissistic”. He developed what was called the “lawn plan” based on a more modest burial and gave the cemetery a more park like feel. The Roy family managed the cemetery until the 1990s.[2]

In 1862, ten years after the opening of Mount Royal Cemetery, the entrance gates were built in the early English Gothic style of architecture.

Mount Royal Cemetery contains more than 200,000 interments and is the final resting place for a number of notable Canadians. It includes a veterans section with several soldiers who were awarded the British Empire's highest military honour, the Victoria Cross. In 1901 the Mount Royal Cemetery Company established the first crematorium in Canada.

Historically used by members of the English-speaking community and those of Protestant faiths, the cemetery is now non-sectarian and open to all. Several small Jewish cemeteries are also located in or nearby Mount Royal Cemetery: Congregation Shaar Hashomayim Cemetery, Spanish and Portuguese-Shearith Israel and Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom (Westmount, Quebec) [2].

The cemetery was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1999 as an example of "Exceptional 19th-century cemetery design and aesthetics." A plaque indicating the cemetery's historic status was erected in 2002.[3][4]

War Graves[edit]

The cemetery contains 459 war graves of Commonwealth service personnel, 276 from World War I and 183 from World War II, most of which form two War Plots in Section G. A Cross of Sacrifice stands on the boundary with Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery.[5]

Military graves at Mount Royal did not take significance until World War I, when Canada lost over 60 000 soldiers. After this event, the population of the city started looking toward public memory more seriously, and gave an entire section to war veterans and fallen soldiers.[2]

Mount Royal Crematory[edit]

The first crematory in Canada was built by Sir Andrew Taylor in 1901 on the eastern side of the Mount Royal Cemetery property with funds donated by Sir William Christopher Macdonald, a well-known tobacco tycoon and great philanthropist. This building is the oldest of its kind in the country and it remained the only crematorium in Quebec until 1975. The first cremation took place on April 18, 1902.

Built with Montreal limestone, the original building had a chapel, a room for the cremation chambers, a large winter storage vault and a conservatory filled with exotic plants. In the 1950s, for maintenance reasons, the conservatory was demolished but the original chapel, on the left of the building, is still intact with a beautiful hand made mosaic floor.[1]

Notable interments[edit]

A few of the prominent people interred in the cemetery are:


  1. ^ a b c
  2. ^ a b Young, Brian with photographs by Geoffrey James. Respectable Burial: Montreal’s Mount Royal Cemetery. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2003.
  3. ^ "Mount Royal Cemetery". Directory of Designations of National Historic Significance of Canada. Parks Canada. Retrieved August 15, 2011. 
  4. ^ Mount Royal Cemetery. Canadian Register of Historic Places. Retrieved August 15, 2011.
  5. ^ [1] CWGC Cemetery Report.

External links[edit]

See also[edit]