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In the Heart of Nature

Image credit : Antonia Leney-Granger

On Mount Royal

Located in the heart of the Mount Royal heritage site, Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery has always developed and managed its activities with respect for its environment.

Image credit : Mathieu Dupuis

Thousands of Trees

Since 2008, the Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery has had a tree and woodland management plan. It contains certain commitments to enhance the value of Mount Royal’s landscape, including:

  • Maintaining green spaces by planting at least one replacement tree for each tree felled
  • Diversifying planted species
  • Increasing the total number of trees on the site

The cemetery’s tree park also includes five woodlands: the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Woodland, the Eastern Woodland, the Central Woodland, the Western Woodland and the Northern Woodland. Between the trees that make up these woodlands and the ornamental trees, the cemetery is estimated to have nearly 13,500 trees, many of which are over 100 years old.

The most common species are silver maple, Norway maple, horse chestnut and sugar maple, but there are also other species such as oak, cherry, ash, spruce, elm, poplar, cedar and weeping willow.

Remarkable Trees

The City of Montréal has made a list of about 60 remarkable trees on Mount Royal, based on several criteria including diameter, estimated age, general condition and rarity of the species in the area. The cemetery site has seven of these remarkable trees, conferring indisputable value to its tree park:

  • A 150-year-old silver maple.
  • A honey locust tree, a rare species in Canada, which was most likely planted by the family of the deceased person buried there.
  • A red ash with an impressive trunk diameter of 115 cm.
  • A Japanese yew tree, over 50 years old, probably planted as a memorial.
  • A 140-year-old Austrian black pine with a top twice as wide (18 m) as its height (7.5 m).
  • A pair of 120- and 150-year-old cottonwoods, well beyond the maximum age usually observed in this native species. They’re over 30 m high.
Image credit : Antonia Leney-Granger

Environmental Initiatives

Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery is a unique place of welcome and remembrance that houses nearly one million deceased on Mount Royal. Its tree park and topography are rich and diverse.

Located on the Mount Royal heritage site, Notre-Dame-des-Neiges is governed by various policies aimed at protecting the mountain’s natural and historical heritage. Accordingly, the cemetery has been participating in projects to enhance its natural environment for several years now, such as developing ecological corridors to allow animal species to migrate and disperse throughout the territory, as well as committing to not use any pesticides on its land.

The cemetery wishes to review some of the more traditional landscaping practices that raise concerns about environmental protection and the enhancement of biodiversity, to reduce the environmental footprint of its activities.

Over the past few decades, client values and choices have been changing, as have their environmental expectations. Over the next few years, we will be reviewing our development and maintenance practices, in order to:

  • Reduce fossil fuel consumption from our activities
  • Reduce the noise pollution created by the use of certain tools
  • Improve waste management
  • Reduce the consumption of salt and abrasive products
  • Decrease water consumption
  • Adapt site development and maintenance practices

In this respect, here are some of the projects we are working on:

Remembrance Grove

In order to offer our clientele a burial option that corresponds more closely to environmental values, we have developed Remembrance Grove, a section reserved for the burial of ashes in biodegradable containers under young trees of native species. In addition to being a more environmentally friendly burial option, Remembrance Grove is a way to help increase the city’s forest cover, thereby improving air quality and biodiversity.

Ecological restoration of grassy areas

Our cemetery covers 343 acres of land. Maintaining the lawn on this huge surface is a long, polluting and costly operation. For several months, lawn tractors, trimmers and other noisy equipment are at work throughout the day. In order to increase biodiversity and reduce our ecological footprint, we will gradually replace a significant portion of non-burial grass areas with perennial coverings (native grasses and flowers). This change will provide a more favourable environment for developing biodiversity.

Waste management by visitors

Every year, our cemetery welcomes several hundred thousand people who come to visit the grave of a loved one and who often plant annuals to decorate their grounds. These activities are welcome, but they result in piles of waste that we have to collect and dispose of later. As is the case in many other cemeteries, visitors to Notre-Dame-des-Neiges are now responsible for bringing back their garbage when they leave the site in order to reduce pollution and make the site more pleasant for everyone.

Modernization of lighting in mausoleums

In order to limit our electricity consumption, we have replaced the compact fluorescent bulbs in our mausoleums with LED lighting, which is more durable and less energy consuming. This lighting system is controlled by motion detectors to limit electricity consumption to the times when it is needed.

Gradual replacement of gasoline-powered vehicles with electric vehicles

Due to the size of our site, we use a fleet of vehicles to maintain the grounds, transport equipment and people, and guide funeral processions. When a vehicle reaches the end of its life and its functions allow it, we replace it with an equivalent electric vehicle in order to limit our greenhouse gas emissions.

Maintenance, managing emerald ash borer and wood recovery

Each year, several employees maintain the roads, trees, lawns and landscaping of the 340-acre Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery. More than 500 tree-related procedures are carried out, including felling, pruning, tree planting and bracing.

In addition to prevention and special care for trees with insect infestations and problematic diseases, the Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery has been particularly active in fighting the emerald ash borer since 2010. All trees are treated and monitored rigorously.

In addition, a recent project allowed us to have those that could not be saved turned into eco-friendly urns and beautiful wooden benches (now installed in our mausoleums), thanks to proper care by the circular economy company Bois Public.

Deployment of the eco-responsible water distribution network

Following numerous ruptures in the existing water system, resulting in the waste of very large quantities of water, we decided to replace this outdated system with an eco-responsible water distribution network. This network is composed of over twenty non-drinking water tanks made available to visitors of the Cemetery for the watering of their flowers. This measure has made it possible to save considerable quantities of drinking water that was flowing down the mountain while maintaining the possibility for customers to water the flowers planted on their plot.

Image credit : Antonia Leney-Granger

Active Wildlife

The Mount Royal forest is home to a diverse range of wildlife. Nearly 100 species of wildlife—amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals—can be observed at Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery.

Grey squirrels, chipmunks, groundhogs, raccoons and striped skunks are the most common. White-tailed rabbits and red foxes can also be seen—always welcome visitors in urban areas.

Several species of birds also visit this special environment. At various times of the year, red-winged blackbirds, American goldfinches, American crows, American kestrels, starlings, bobolinks, swallows, American robins, sparrows, black-capped chickadees, mockingbirds, Baltimore orioles, warblers, woodpeckers, killdeer, common grackles, white-breasted nuthatches and Eastern kingbirds can be seen.

Sustainable development and natural heritage go hand in hand at the cemetery. With this in mind, a wildlife management plan was adopted. Its objective is to preserve, develop and enhance the diversity of wildlife that frequents the cemetery while limiting the nuisance that certain animals may cause due to their numbers or behaviour.

Our management plan therefore has three areas of focus to maintain the balance between the cemetery’s role as a space for burial and commemoration activities and a home to wildlife.

Focus 1: conservation and enhancement of wildlife diversity through respect for wildlife in all cemetery activities. 

Focus 2: enhancement of wildlife by sharing knowledge and related tools with our workers and visitors. 

Focus 3: management of wildlife problems through intervention measures to ensure harmony between wildlife and cemetery activities.

Image credit : Roger Vaillancourt

Help us preserve wildlife and ensure harmonious cohabitation.

By feeding without human intervention, animals develop appropriate behaviours essential to their survival.Human food is not suitable for them. 

Feeding animals contributes to the overabundance of some species.This is detrimental to a natural ecological balance and wildlife diversity. 

By losing their natural fear of humans, animals may disturb visitors. 

Please observe the ban on feeding animals and follow these two tips:

Enjoy wildlife from a distance.

Keep your pet at home.


  • Eco-Friendly Options
  • Funeral Prearrangements
  • Interment and burial
  • Cremation
  • Funerals and Ceremonies
  • Commemoration
  • Interment in a crypt or columbarium
Eco-Friendly Options

Inspired by the nature of Mount Royal, we have developed eco-friendly options to allow people to make their final gesture kind to the planet.

Funeral Prearrangements

Funeral prearrangements allow you to plan your final wishes while you are alive, and to ensure that they are respected at the time of your death.

Interment and burial

Thanks to its exceptional location on Mount Royal, Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery has a large surface area that allows it to offer many plots even today.

Cremation

Cremation is now chosen by nearly 75% of Quebecers. There are many reasons to choose this option, including its simplicity and the possibilities it offers.

Funerals and Ceremonies

Arrange a religious or secular funeral on site, accompanied by very talented professional musicians to mark these important and emotional moments.

Commemoration

Because we know that your loved ones are not forgotten, we offer several memorial services and items to honor their memory.

Interment in a crypt or columbarium

Interment in a columbarium allows the insertion of an urn in a niche; burial in a crypt allows the insertion of a coffin in a dedicated space in a mausoleum.