Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery

Mount Royal National Historic Sites of Canada Montreal Stock Exchange
Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery
Front entrance, Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery
Established1854 (1854)
Coordinates45°30′06″N 73°36′22″W / 45.50178°N 73.60608°W / 45.50178; -73.60608Coordinates: 45°30′06″N 73°36′22″W / 45.50178°N 73.60608°W / 45.50178; -73.60608
TypeOriginally Roman Catholic, open to all Christian burials
StyleRural cemetery
Size343 acres (139 ha)
No. of graves65,000+
No. of interments1 million
Find a GraveNotre Dame des Neiges Cemetery
Official nameNotre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery
Reference no.1864

Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery (French: Cimetière Notre-Dame-des-Neiges) is a 343-acre (139 ha) rural cemetery located in the borough of Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, Montreal, Quebec, Canada which was founded in 1854. 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.[4]

History and description

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 present-day Dorchester Square) had become too small to serve Montreal's rapidly increasing population.[5] Founded in 1854 as a garden cemetery in the French style, it was designed by landscape architect Henri-Maurice Perreault, who studied rural cemeteries in Boston and New York.[6] On May 29, 1855, thirty-five-year-old Jane Gilroy McCready, wife of Thomas McCready, then a Montreal municipal councillor, was the first person to be buried in the new cemetery.[7]

Notre Dame des Neiges is the largest cemetery in Canada with more than 55 kilometres of lanes and one million people interred.[8] The Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery site has more than 65,000 monuments and 71 family vaults.[2]

The cemetery originally served Roman Catholics and rural French Canadians. Italian, Portuguese, Japanese, Orthodox Greek, Polish, Ukrainian and Huron are also represented, indicated in many instances by ethnic motifs on gravestones.[6] The cemetery is adjacent to the Mount Royal Cemetery, a predominantly English-speaking and originally Protestant adjacent burial ground, the Shaar Hashomayim Cemetery, an Ashkenazi Jewish burial ground and Temple Emanu-El Cemetery a Reform Judaism burial ground. These four 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.[2][3]

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.[8]

War graves

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

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

Notable interments

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


  1. ^ "Cimetière de Notre-Dame-des-Neiges". GeoNames. Retrieved 10 June 2020.
  2. ^ a b c Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery National Historic Site of Canada. Canadian Register of Historic Places. Retrieved 10 June 2020.
  3. ^ a b "Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery National Historic Site of Canada". Directory of Federal Heritage Designations. Parks Canada. Retrieved 10 June 2020.
  4. ^ "Cimetière Notre-Dame-des-Neiges - Accueil". www.cimetierenotredamedesneiges.ca. Retrieved 29 October 2017.
  5. ^ http://www.notredamedesneigescemetery.ca. "Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery - History". www.cimetierenddn.org. Archived from the original on 2012-04-25. Retrieved 29 October 2017.
  6. ^ a b Voitinski, Pavel. "Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery, Montreal as Palimpsest, April 18, 2008" (PDF).
  7. ^ Murray, Danielle (July 29, 2014). "Rich past lies beneath Montrealers' feet". Montreal Gazette.
  8. ^ a b ArcUser Magazine, "Navigating Canada's Largest Cemetery", Summer 2009, p. 27
  9. ^ CBC, story about labour dispute
  10. ^ "History".
  11. ^ Reading Room Manchester. "Cemetery Details".
  12. ^ http://www.notredamedesneigescemetery.ca. "Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery - The first mausoleums". www.cimetierenddn.org. Archived from the original on 2012-04-25. Retrieved 29 October 2017.
  13. ^ "Biography – TASCHEREAU, Sir HENRI-THOMAS – Volume XIII (1901-1910) – Dictionary of Canadian Biography".