Beechwood Cemetery

Beechwood Cemetery

Although it was originally established in 1873 as a rural Anglo-Protestant burial ground serving only its immediate environs, Beechwood Cemetery today is a refined and spacious multicultural and multi-faith memorial park where Canadians of all sorts are represented and immortalized together.

Flowers are placed in front of most headstones at Beechwood

Lifelong locals, out-of-towners, and foreign-born citizens are memorialized in equal measure here. Names on the epitaphs are not only of Anglo-Saxon or Francophone heritage, but can be traced to far-off places like Poland, Germany, and Japan, with each having their own specific religious rites to be taken care of. A Chinese pagoda is situated in the centre of the cemetery overlooking a bubbling pond – the cemetery’s website indicates that services are offered in three different dialects of the Chinese language.

The Chinese Pagoda

All strata of Canadians are welcome, and there is no clear delineation between religious faiths or a person’s particular place in the class hierarchy. An artist rests across from a businessman. A 102-year-old woman rests across from a 17-year-old girl.

Headstone of Edith Macham, who lived to 102

Beechwood is home to the National Military Cemetery of Canada, with 12,000 burial plots allotted for active servicemen and women killed in action. General Maurice Baril noted that the military had been given “the high ground of the cemetery, in sight of our Parliament, next to veterans of previous wars and among the thousands of Canadians buried in Beechwood. This is exactly what we want.” Wreaths Across Canada, an organization that acts to honour Canada’s veterans and war dead, has recently put plans into motion to decorate every grave with a memorial wreath. The hope is that the sight of 3,000 wreaths will solidify in the minds of visitors the magnitude of the sacrifice our soldiers have made.

About the Neighbourhood

The Village of Rockcliffe Park

Until 2001, Rockcliffe Park operated as an entity independent from the city, and as such, it retains vestiges of its former self that differentiate it from the rest of Ottawa. The streets are laid out haphazardly; twisting in unorthodox directions, with no through streets and seemingly arbitrary curves and hills. Their arrangement seems to have been based more on the natural geographic features of the underlying landscape, and less on the ease of use of its inhabitants. One residential street splits down the middle and rejoins itself 50 metres later, leaving behind an island of grass, populated with trees and benches for neighbourhood dog-walkers and birdwatchers. One can find many of both roaming the parks, which are well-tended and welcoming to visitors.

A home facing onto the "island of grass"

Rockcliffe is the most affluent neighbourhood in Ottawa, with the average annual income of its residents double that of the city overall. Many of the homes would be welcome within the pages of Architectural Digest, with parapets and towers and wrought iron gates. There is a private boarding school and several small lakes with restricted access. Stornaway, the home of the leader of the Official Opposition, as well as the residences of many international ambassadors are located here. Kids keep their Fisher Price pedal cars out on their front lawns, adults keep their garage doors open with expensive power tools in clear sight of potential burglars. People here seem to feel safe.

Training apparatus for the Ashbury College football team

The only looming question is how best to expand, with the most viable and contentious option being to convert the old Canadian Forces Base into a new residential area. Whatever the outcome of the dealings are, Rockcliffe Park will remain one of the most quaint and charming areas of the city.