Foundation of the largest cemetery in Canada

In the nineteenth century, most cemeteries were built next to churches, to allow worshipers to pray for their departed loved ones. The cemetery was located on the current Dorchester Square. A solution had to be found when the City Council of Montreal adopted a by-law prohibiting burials within the limits of the city, in 1853.

In 1854, the Fabrique de la paroisse Notre-Dame de Montréal purchased some land on Mount Royal from Dr. Beaubien, in Côte-des-Neiges.

The first burial of Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery was on May 29, 1855; it was of Jane Gilroy, a young 35 years old Irish girl.

Cultural communities

The waves of immigration that began in the second half of the 19th century required the cemeteries to adapt, especially a sense of openness and welcoming. Notre-Dame-des-Neiges has been open to the various Christian communities since its foundation. These demographic transformations have resulted in the creation of branches for communities who want eternal rest with their loved ones. The first branch is that of the French National Union in 1894, followed by the branch of the Chinese Catholic Mission in 1917. Today there are sections for the Japanese, Ukrainian, Polish, Italian, Portuguese, Serbian communities.

These families brought an aesthetic to these sections that also contributes to the uniqueness of the cemetery.

Famous figures

Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery is home to nearly a million deceased. Among them, some individuals have marked the history of our society in the fields of the arts, politics, history, architecture, and business world.

Here are just a few of the other great men and women whose names you’ll recognize:

IN POLITICS

About 20 mayors of Montréal are buried here, including Camillien Houde, Jean Drapeau, the Honorable Alphonse-Desjardins, and several others. You will also find the monuments of Sir George-Étienne Cartier, Jean Drapeau, Thomas d'Arcy McGee, Robert Bourassa…

IN THE ARTISTIC FIELD

Mary Travers known as "La Bolduc", Jacques Normand, Gratien Gélinas, Janine Sutto, René Angélil, the artist Jean-Paul Riopelle, the poet Émile Nelligan…

IN THE SPORTS WORLD

Maurice Richard, Jean "Johnny" Rougeau, René Lecavalier…

Funerary Heritage

Founded in 1854 and inaugurated in 1855, Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery contains precious heritage pieces to which the municipal, provincial and federal governments have attributed various historical statutes.

The funerary monuments are bona fide stone archives. Several commemorative works have become true historical pieces, such as the Monument aux Patriotes. The many works of art installed in the mausoleums also constitute choice examples of religious and artistic heritage.

The cemetery also features several historic buildings, such as the administrative pavilion, the Notre-Dame-de-la-Résurrection Chapel, and the Simon-Lacombe House, that draw the attention of visitors by their cachet.

Many Québec artists have endowed the cemetery with remarkable monuments. Carved out of marble or granite, they have one common goal: to commit to memory. From the 1880's on until the economic crisis of 1929, the cemetery was endowed with exceptional monuments.

Bronze, ornaments, engravings, mosaics, angels... The variety of works and their components is important. Let us highlight the contribution of exceptional artists, including sculptors Louis-Philippe Hébert, Henri Hébert, and Émile Brunet, by whom we count some thirty works in the cemetery.

Bannière rotative

Famous people - boite

Many other distinguished names besides these make a stroll through Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery an enriching and stimulating experience.

To learn about them all, including the locations of their graves, you can get our Répertoire des personnages célèbres brochure (FR only) to our administration building at a cost of $ 5. The money raised will be used to improve the quality of our facilities.

famous people guide

 

private mausoleums

Saviez-vous que ?

The mausoleum dates back to ancient times. In 350 BC, Artemisia II, Queen of Caria in Asia Minor, ordered a great tomb of rare magnificence to be built for her husband, Mausolus. In the Ancient Wolrd, this original mausoleum in the city of Halicarnassus was considered to be one of the Seven Wonders of the World.