When Ottawa closed its Lower Town cemeteries (Barracks Hill Cemetery: 1788-1844, and Sandy Hill Cemetery: 1844-1872), His Excellency Joseph Eugène Guigues, 1st Bishop of Ottawa (1848), purchased 20 hectares of land from Mr. Bradley for the interment of Catholics. This land became known as Notre-Dame Cemetery. It is Ottawa’s oldest and largest Catholic Cemetery.
Under the direction of Canon Georges Bouillon, a notable diocesan priest-architect, the plans for the new cemetery began to take shape on October 2, 1870. Work continued in 1871, and on May 1st, 1872, the grounds were consecrated by Bishop Guigues in the presence of 8,000 faithful, and the cemetery was officially opened.
Presently, the cemetery’s 20 hectares is the final resting place for 130,000 individuals. Here, residents and visitors to Canada are able to learn about Canada’s valuable history and about the individuals who shaped the nation and the City of Ottawa.
Notre-Dame Cemetery is honoured to be the final resting place for the first religious communities in the Ottawa region. The Sisters of Charity, the Daughters of Wisdom, Montfortain priests, Redemptorists, Sisters of the Good Shepherd, Adorers of the Precious Blood are some of the religious communities which find their place among Canadians who have chosen Notre-Dame Cemetery for their final rest. Politicians such as Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier; Senators Michael G. Basha, Charles Murphy, Jean-Robert Gauthier; Mayors Camille Gladu, Joseph Charles Balzora Turgeon, Samuel Bingham are also resting here. Numerous Canadians and foreign militaries are honoured in the cemetery; there are two fields of honour and over 1,200 military graves.
Most importantly, Notre-Dame Cemetery is a cemetery built for our loved ones and friends – our heroes. It is a place where we can commemorate and honour them. Having served families for 137 years as a non-profit catholic organization and charity, Notre-Dame Cemetery continues to fulfill its ministry of mercy and compassion. The grounds offer a place of peace and serenity for the deceased and their families.
As we walk the beautiful and historic grounds of the cemetery, one cannot forget that we walk in the footsteps of those who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith – what a legacy they have left us! Notre-Dame Cemetery is here to continue serving for generations to come.
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