Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery – Montreal, Québec - Atlas Obscura

Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery is a very large graveyard that sits on the hill of Mount Royal in the city of Montreal. Ask any Montrealer and they’re bound to have a great-aunt, grandfather or uncle buried there. Founded in 1854, it is Canada’s largest graveyard and the third largest in North America.

The cemetery’s architects were inspired by the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. Their goal was to scale a French classicism style with the feelings of nature. This was a popular aesthetic movement at the time, influenced by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, a French philosopher. The cemetery was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1999. The generally Roman Catholic cemetery holds over a million people (that’s a third of the population of the city) and is complete with 65,000 monuments. One of the mausoleums, named La Pietà Mausoleum, has a life-sized reproduction of Michelangelo’s actual Pietà sculpture. Notre-Dame is as diverse as Montreal itself.

The cemetery offers selected areas reserved for all types of nationalities. Take a roam around the cemetery and you’ll discover spots exclusively for Chinese, Korean, French, Italian, Greek, Polish, Portuguese, and Ukrainian clients. Some of Quebec’s most famous deceased politicians and journalists call Notre-Dame their home, including Robert and Henri Bourassa, Thérèse Casgrain, Nick Auf der Maur and Maurice “Rocket” Richard.

Located in the city’s eclectic Côte-des-Neiges neighborhood and being only a few blocks away from the famous St. Joseph’s Oratory, Notre-Dame serves as an ideal place to wander, contemplating the afterlife, life, and everything in between.

Note: The cemetery is closed indefinitely as of April 18, 2023 due to ice storm damage. “Thousands of trees were broken by the ice storm and wind on April 5th, and, despite our work to repair the damages and clean the site, many of the cemetery’s 33 kilometres of roads are still blocked by trees and branches that present a significant danger to visitors. In addition, several branches broken by the ice, threaten to fall at any time, posing additional risks to visitors. We continue to welcome bereaved families by appointment for cremation and crypt burial services, but casket burials in the ground are postponed. We will announce the reopening of the cemetery as soon as the site is secure.”

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