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Beechwood Cemetery, The National Cemetery of Canada

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Beechwood Cemetery, located in Ottawa, Ontario, is the National Cemetery of Canada. It is the final resting place for over 75,000 Canadians from all walks of life, such as important politicians like Governor General Ramon Hnatyshyn and Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden, Canadian Forces Veterans, War Dead, members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and men and women who have made a mark on Canadian history. In addition to being Canada's National Cemetery, it is also the National Military Cemetery of Canada and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police National Memorial Cemetery.

A woodland cemetery founded in 1873, it is 64.7 hectares (160 acres) and is the largest cemetery in the city of Ottawa.

History

Since the Northwest Rebellion of 1885, soldiers who were killed in the line of duty and war veterans have been buried in Beechwood Cemetery. The cemetery contains the National Military Cemetery which consists of two sections managed by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, a Veterans Section owned by Veterans Affairs Canada and the National Military Cemetery of the Canadian Forces, created in 2001 and owned and managed by the federal Department of National Defence.

The first monument in the cemetery was erected by members of the 2nd Ottawa Field Battery in the 1870s. The sculptured sandstone cairn is dedicated to the memory of their former commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel John B. Turner. Erected in the 1870s by members of the 2nd Ottawa Field Battery, a sculptured sandstone statue on shaft is dedicated to the memory of a former commander, Captain James Forsyth.

The cemetery inspired a classic Canadian poem "In Beechwood Cemetery" by Archibald Lampman with its memorable final line, "They know no season but the end of time."

Moses Chamberlain Edey designed the cemetery entrance gates in 1891.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission is responsible for the graves of 98 Commonwealth (mainly Canadian) service personnel of World War I and 113 of World War II. The commission also maintains the Ottawa Cremation Memorial, in a shelter adjoining the newer of the veterans' plots, which lists 26 personnel who were cremated in Canada and the U.S.A. in World War II.

Noted for its Neo-Gothic architecture, the mausoleum at Beechwood was built in the early 1930s. The building was built by a company separate from the cemetery, Canada Mausoleums Ltd. After a few years of operation, in a time of depression and financial difficulties, the mausoleum became the property of the cemetery. The building features stained glass windows designed by noted stained glass artist James Blomfield.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission erected a memorial, known as a Cross of Sacrifice, incorporating a bronze sword inlayed in a granite cross in memory of the war dead buried in the cemetery's field of honour.

On March 5, 2009 Environment Minister Jim Prentice introduced legislation to designate Beechwood as the National Cemetery of Canada due to "its location here in our national capital, Beechwood serves as a focal point for our national memorial events, including Remembrance Day, and it is an appropriate place to conduct state burials." This was done to "serve as an important symbol of Canadian unity and pride and a means of preserving and promoting Canada's rich history and our diversity." The bill was passed on March 6. The bill received Royal Assent on April 23, 2009.

The multi-faith aspects include a monument to Our Lady of Fatima, Élisabeth Bruyère, St. Marie-Marguerite d'Youville, St. Charbel a pagoda in the Chinese section of the cemetery and an Aboriginal Tribute Garden.

Links

Ottawa, Canada, Beechwood Cemetery Registers, 1873-1990