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The four cemeteries and their characteristics

Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery

Owner: Fabrique of the parish of Notre-Dame de Montréal
Designer: Henri-Maurice Perrault
Inauguration: 1854
Size: 137 hectares, i.e., over 72% of the size of Mount Royal Park and 18% of the area of the Historic and Natural District.
The largest Catholic cemetery in Québec and Canada.
Almost 900,000 bodies are interred.

Mount Royal Cemetery
Owner: Montreal Cemetery Co.
First burial in 1852
Size: 67 hectares, or 35% of the area of Mount Royal Park
The Jewish Emanu-El Temple cemetery was integrated into the Mount Royal Cemetery in 1890.
Over 190,000 bodies are interred.

Spanish and Portuguese—Shearith Israel Cemetery
Owner: Shearith Israel Spanish and Portuguese Congregation
Designer: Mr. Spriggins, superintendent of the Mount Royal Cemetery
Sephardic congregation founded in 1768
Inaugurated in September 1854

Shaar Hashomayim Cemetery
This congregation formed following a schism within Montréal’s Jewish community
Owner: Shaar Hashomayim Congregation
Size: approximately 5 acres
Almost 7000 bodies interred

Source: État des lieux et plan d’actions pour la conservation et la mise en valeur des composantes patrimoniales des cimetières du mont Royal

Credit: Les amis de la montagne collection

 

Gate of Mount Royal Cemetery
Photographer: Jacques Dorais
© Collection Les amis de la montagne

Sculpture of an angel playing harp, Mount Royal Cemetery
Photographer: Karine Gagné
© Karine Gagné

The Molson family's mausoleum, Mount Royal Cemetery
© Les amis de la montagne's Collection

A tulip in Mount Royal Cemetery
Photographer: Tom Berryman
© Tom Berryman

The gate house or waiting room, Mount Royal Cemetery
Mount Royal Cemetery's oldest surviving building.
© Les amis de la montagne's Collection

Gravestone in the snow, Mount Royal Cemetery
Photographer: Karine Gagné
© Karine Gagné

View in the Mount Royal Cemetery
Photographer: Jean-Michel Villanove
© Les amis de la montagne's Collection

Decorative detail, Mount-Royal Cemetery
Photographer: Samuel Montigné
© Les amis de la montagne's Collection

Decorative detail, Mount-Royal Cemetery
Photographer: Samuel Montigné
© Les amis de la montagne's Collection

Military cemetery, Mont Royal Cemetery
Photographer: Samuel Montigné
© Collection Les amis de la montagne

Row of gravestones, Mount Royal Cemetery
Photographer: Samuel Montigné
© Les amis de la montagne's Collection

Spring in Mount Royal Cemetery
Photographer: Samuel Montigné
© Les amis de la montagne's Collection

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Cemeteries, cultural landscapes

There are four cemeteries on Mount Royal.
They occupy an area larger than Mount Royal Park. And they contain over a million bodies!

Monuments were erected to help people mourn and to remember:
Headstones, tombs or mausoleums. They are made of granite, marble or limestone and may be embellished with iron, wood or bronze. Each has distinctive signs, dates and names written in a multitude of alphabets. Some are decorated with symbols that are related to a belief, or express an attachment to a community.

Cemeteries are, above all, places of communing and commemoration. For some they are also a place for walking.
In the middle of the nineteenth century, the first rural, or garden, cemeteries were developed on the mountain, using principles of landscape design. In a way, they became the first urban parks.

At that time, they were important places where one had to be seen! So those who had the means had imposing monuments built, to mark the presence of a loved one. Or, they commissioned artists to make sculptures. Funerary art even led to some craftspeople becoming recognized artists. But most of the time, monuments were mass produced industrially.

In some ways, cemeteries are like towns or villages, with rich and poor areas, and ethnic neighbourhoods.

To discover the wealth and diversity of these sites, wander along the many paths that wind through Mount Royal Cemetery and Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery.