How to Find a Burial in Montreal

Alan Greenberg, alan.greenberg@mcgill.ca

 

 

Finding out when and where a person was buried is often a critical next-step in genealogy. Unlike most other North American cities, the vast majority of Montreal synagogues were (and are) Orthodox. As a result, locating a burial not only gives you the date of death, but in most cases, the tombstone will also have a Hebrew inscription including the father’s name. There is also a possibility that a family member has arranged for permanent care or is currently paying for annual flowers to be planted, and that his or her name is on file with the cemetery. This tutorial will step through your options in locating a Montreal burial and, as a result, finding family.

 

Cemeteries

 

All Montreal Jewish cemeteries were located on farmland, outside of the city limits. In all but one case, these areas have now become developed, residential areas. Prior to the 1950’s, there were only five Jewish cemeteries in use in Montreal, with two of them used for the vast number of burials.

 

The Baron De Hirsch Affiliated Cemeteries (formerly United Hebrew Cemeteries) was established in 1892. The Baron De Hirsch (BdeH) includes a large number of sections affiliated with synagogues and private burial societies. The cemetery has in the order of 50,000 burials. The BdeH has a computer-based database and will respond to e-mail, telephone, fax and paper-mail-based requests. E-mail is the recommended method. Note that the computer-based list does not include the headstones which have Hebrew-only inscriptions. It may not include burials for which a headstone was never erected or where the headstone inscription is no longer readable. Their contact details are – Address: 5015 de la Savane, Montreal, QC H4P 1V1, Tel: 514-735-4696, Fax 514-735-4698, Email: bdh@barondehirsch.com. There is a map of the BdeH cemetery at the end of this tutorial. The records of the Baron de Hirsch Cemetery are now available online on the JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry – JOWBR

 

The Back River Memorial Gardens is a few years older than the BdeH, but is smaller. It too is composed of several sections affiliated with synagogues and burial societies. The Back River Cemetery (as it is called) is managed by the BdeH. When BdeH receives a query (above), they will also check the Back River records (the same qualifications about missing entries mentioned above also apply). However, the records of the Back River Cemetery are now available online on the JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry – JOWBR. The JGS-Montreal is in the process of translating and indexing the Hebrew-only stones in the Back River Cemetery.

 

The other three early cemeteries in Montreal are operated by Montreal’s three founding synagogues. All three are adjacent to each other on the slopes of Mount Royal in the centre of the Island of Montreal.

 

The Spanish and Portuguese - Shearith Israel was Montreal’s first synagogue and for many years its only Sephardic one. Note however, that many of its members may well have been Ashkenazic. Their records are moderately complete. Tel: 514-737-3695 (synagogue).

 

The Congregation Shaar Hashomayim was Montreal’s second synagogue, founding in 1846 as the English, German and Polish Congregation. Tel: 514-937-9471, Fax: 514-272-6010.

 

The Temple Emanu-El (now the Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom following a merger) was formed as Montreal’s first (and still only) Reform Synagogue. The cemetery is segregated but physically part of the (largely Christian) Mount Royal Cemetery. Tel: 514-279-7358, Fax: 514-279-0049.

 

In the 1950’s, as the Jewish population moved into the suburbs, there was a need for new synagogues and therefore new cemeteries. Several new cemeteries were concecrated in the outskirts of Montreal, each used by a number of the new synagogues as well as for expansion for older synagogues or burial societies.

 

Eternal Gardens Cemetery, Tel: 514-695-1751

 

Kehal Israel Memorial Park, Tel: 514-684-3441, Fax: 514-421-2272.

 

Mount Pleasant Cemetery - Beth Israel, Tel: 450-661-7016. 

 

There are numerous non-Jewish cemeteries in and near Montreal. The largest two are listed below.

 

Mount Royal Cemetery (MRC) is largely Christian, but people of all faiths are buried there. The Temple Emanu-El cemetery is phyisically part of MRC. The MRC may include Temple Emanu-El burials. The MRC cemetery is fully indexed. Online access is currently not available but they will respond to online queries. See http://www.mountroyalcem.com/products_services/genealogy/index.aspx?lang=en-CA. Among those buried in the MRC is Anna Leonowens, who you may be familiar with from the novel and film Anna and the King of Siam and the Broadway show and film The King and I.

 

The Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery is the Catholic cemetery also on Mount Royal, adjacent to the MRC. They support full online searches- http://www.notredamedesneigescemetery.ca/en/research/locate.htm. Although the search engine is in French, it is easy to use: Défunt means Deceased and Rechercher means Search. It will also show you others buried in the same section.

 

Funeral Homes

 

In recent years, almost all Jewish funerals have been conducted by Paperman & Sons Inc., with some going back as far as 1913. They have a computerized database for later funerals. In some cases, they have “Burial Permits” which are roughly equivalent to traditional death certificates in content. However, privacy laws may make it difficult to obtain these. Contact information - 3888 Jean Talon St. W., Montreal, QC H3R 2G8 Tel: 514-733 7101, Fax: 514-733 1775, E-mail: information@paperman.com, www.paperman.com.

 

Beth Olam Levayah operated from December 1997 to October 2001. Records for 550 funerals conducted by Beth Olam Levayah are available from parent company, Service Corporation Inc. (SCI). Contact: Mr. Harold Laxer - Tel: 514-342-8000 or 1-888-342-6565, Fax: 514-342-6910.

 

Chesed Shel Emes, 935 Beaumont Ave., Montreal, QC,  Tel: 514-273-3211. Serves Hasidic community.

 

Prior to the existence of Paperman & Sons, but extending to recent years, funerals were often conducted by non-Jewish funeral homes.  In particular, the Spanish & Portuguese used the services of Joseph Wray and the Shaar Hashomayim worked with William Wray. The Temple Emanu-El had similar arrangements. These two firms have since merged into the Wray, Walton  & Wray Funeral Home. , 1459 Towers, Montreal, QC  H3H 2E2, Tel: 514-483-2320, Fax: 514-938-4242, Contact:  Mr. Kevin MacDonald. Records of Joseph Wray Funeral Home, established 1907, include many Jewish burials pre-dating the founding of Paperman's.  Pre-1995 records are not computerized.  Information in their records varied over the years with the newer ones having more complete data.  The records are organized variously depending on the year and which company conducted the service. An extract or copy of the Burial Permit may be available.  There is no charge for this service for requests for one or two records.

 

Park Maintenance Corporation manages the Kehal Israel Memorial Park and Eternal Gardens cemeteries and has some indices. Contact info - 460 Isabey, St. Laurent, Quebec H4T 1V3; Tel: 514-738-5356, Fax: 514-738-3244.

 

Note that there is a synagogue in Montreal called the Chevra Kadisha – the traditional name for the group providing Jewish funerals. However, although they originally had plans to perform these rituals, it never materialized, and they have no funeral-related functions or records (other than those related to their own synagogue’s cemetery).

 

Newspaper Obituaries


Starting in the 1940s (and sometimes before), most Jewish deaths were announced with paid obituaries in the Montreal Star and/or the Montreal Gazette. Until it went out of business in 1979, the Montreal Star was more typically used, but the time of death and the funeral schedule also influenced where the announcement was made (the Star published in the afternoon, and the Gazette in the morning). Note that newspaper obituaries will very often include the names of children, grandchildren, brothers and sisters and occasionally parents. Locating obituaries is easy once you have the date of death, but will typically require local Montreal research or Inter-Library Loan as online listings only cover 2002-present. Online records for the Gazette can be found at http://classifieds.canada.com/montreal/archives/index.aspx?cls_id=34482&goback=30.

 

Other resources

 

The Jewish Genealogical Society of Montreal holds more than 70,000 vital records for the period from 1842-1942. These records do include some (but not many) burial records. The records sometimes give little more information than the name of the deceased and the date, but at times provide a wealth of information. http://jgs-montreal.org/vital/.

 

If you know the year of death, the Quebec government can issue a formal death certificate, but for deaths prior to 1994, the certificate has virtually no usable genealogical data on it. http://www.etatcivil.gouv.qc.ca/English/Death.htm. The government will not normally accept genealogy as a valid reason for ordering a death record.

 

Death records more than 100 years old are held by the Quebec National Archives. They do not offer a research service, and all research must be conducted in person or by hiring a local researcher.

 

Cemeteries

 

Baron de Hirsch Affiliated Cemeteries

5015 de la Savanne

Montreal, Quebec

http://barondehirsch.com/

Tel: 514-735-4696

 

Established: 1905

 

Directions:     The cemetery is located on de la Savane between Mountain Sights and Kindersley Avenues (just east of the Decarie Expressway (15) and south of the Trans Canada Highway (40).

 

Note: Formerly called United Hebrew Cemeteries

 

Estimated burial count: 55,000 (52,200 known names – the rest unmarked or un-recorded)

 

(click image for full-page printable PDF)

BdH MAP-2008-lowres

 

 

Back River Cemetery - Memorial Gardens

Corner Berri and Sauve

Montreal, Quebec

 

Managed by Baron de Hirsch (see above)

 

Established: 1892, but it was used by the Temple Emanu-El and one other synagogue starting in about 1983, and about 35 burials date from that era.

 

Estimated burial count: 5,500

 

Directions:     The cemetery is located north-east of downtown Montreal north of the Trans Canada Highway (40) and east os St. Laurent Blvd.  The older section is between Berri and Lajeunesse north of Sauve.  The newer section is on the west side of Berri south of Sauve.

 

(click image for full-page printable PDF)

Map of Back River Cemetery

 

 

(Congregation) Shaar Hashomayim Cemetery (founded 1846)

1250 Chemin de la Foret

Outrement, Quebec  H2V 4T6

 

Tel: 514-937-9471 #111

Fax: 514-272-6010

 

Directions:     The Cemetery is located on the slopes of Mount Royal. de la Foret is a small, dead-end street just of Mount Royal Blvd.

 

Estimated burial count: 6,000

 

 

 

Spanish and Portuguese - Shearith Israel (founded 1768)

Chemin de la Foret

Outrement, Quebec

 

Synagogue Tel: 514-737-3695

 

Directions:     The Cemetery is located on the slopes of Mount Royal.  de la Foret is a small, dead-end street just of of Mount Royal Blvd.

 

 

 

Temple Emanuel Cemetery

1297 Chemin de la Foret

Outrement, Quebec  H2V 2P9

 

Established: 1892

 

Mount Royal Cemetery Tel: 514-279-7358

Mount Royal Cemetery Fax: 514-279-0049

Synagogue Tel: 514-937-3575

 

Directions:     The Cemetery is located on the slopes of Mount Royal.  de la Foret is a small, dead-end street just of of Mount Royal Blvd.  The cemetery is within the larger (primarily Protestant) Mount Royal Cemetery.  Enter through the gates at the end of the street, keep to the left after the entrance area.  The designation on the cemetery map is D3.

 

 

 

Eternal Gardens Cemetery

Elm Street, Beaconfield, Quebec

Tel: 450-695-1751

 

Directions:     Take Trans Canada Highway (40) to Exit 50 (St. Charles Road).  Turn left (south) on St. Charles Road to Evergreen Drive (last street on right before Highway 20 underpass).  Turn right on Evergreen Drive to Elm Avenue.  Left on Elm Avenue past station to cemetery.

 

Sections:

 

 |------------|  1. Beth El

 |   9  |     |  2. Beth Zion

 |      |  4  |  3. Reconstructionist - Congregation Dorshei Emet

 |   2  |     |  4. Shaare Zedek

 |      |     |  5. Shaare Zion

 |      |     |  6. Temple Emanu-el / Beth Sholom (2 sections)

 |   6  |  3  |  7. Spanish and Portuguese

 |      |     |  8. Communaute Shepharde du Quebec

 |   7  |     |      includes: Association des Juif Iraniens,

 |      |  6  |        Centre Communautiaire Juif, Hekhal Shalom,

 |      |     |        Or Hahayim, Or Sepharad, Or Shalom,

 |   5  |  1  |        Petah Tikua

 |      |     |

 |------A-----|

         \

         Street entrance

 

 

 

MONTREAL:

Kehal Israel Memorial Park

4189 Sources Road, Dollard des Ormeaux

Tel: 514-684-3441

Fax: 514-421-2272

 

Directions:     Take Trans Canada Highway (40) to Exit 55 (Sources Road).  Turn right (north) on Sources Road.  Cemetery is approximately 1 mile (1.6 km).

 

(click image for full-page printable PDF)

Map-white-small

 

 

 

 

Mount Pleasant Cemetery

5505 bas St. Francois

Duvernay, Quebec

Tel: 450-661-7016

 

Established: about 1959

 

Directions:     Take the Laurentien Autoroute (15) north.  Exit on Highway 440 East.  Exit at Montee St. Francois.  Turn left at stop sign, go over hill until Bas St. Francois (about 2 miles, 3 km).  Turn right on Bas St. Francois.  Cemetery is about 1/2 mile (3/4 km) on left.

 

Note: Mount Pleasant is a multi-demoninational cemetery.  The Jewish section is immediately past Mausoleums at entrance.

 

 

 

 |      #      |    

 |   ^  #  ^   |    

 |  16  #  16  |  1. Zawiercie & Vicinity Relief Society of Mtl

 |      #      |  2. Krakower Society

 |  15  #      |  3. Les Amis de France et de Belgique

 |      #      |  4. Yishitzer Young Men's Sick Benefit Assoc.

 |      #  14  |  5. Lodzer Farband of Montreal

 |      #  13  |  6. Chelmer Society

 |      #######|  7. Young Israel of Val Royal

 |      #  12  |  8. Beth Israel - Mount Pleasant

 |  10  #  11  |  9. Radomer Mutual Aid Society

 |      #  9   | 10. Knights of Pythias

 |      #######| 11. Zaglembie Association

 |      #  8   | 12. Lubavitch Cemetery

 |   6  #  7   | 13. Young Israel of Chomedy

 |   4  #  5   | 14. King Edward Benefit

 |   3  #      | 15. Congregation Shaar Shalom

 |   2  #      | 16. Non-Jewish sections

 |   1  #      |    

 |      #      |    

 |      #      |    

 |      #      |

 |------A------|

         \

         Street entrance

 

 

 

Copyright ©  2009 by Alan Greenberg, Montreal. All rights reserved