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.
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.