Beechwood Cemetery was established in 1873 on a 160 acre tract of land on the outskirts of Ottawa, part of the original McPhail farm (100 acres) and the MacKay / Keefer estates. It became a prime example of the type of rural cemetery that emerged in the United States and Canada in the 19th century characterized by winding roads, picturesque vistas, wooded groves, unique landscaping as well as monuments and markers of considerable architectural and historical interest.
Originally perceived to be the Anglo-Protestant cemetery of Ottawa, today Beechwood is a reflection of Canada’s identity as a multicultural, multi faith society with sections reserved for religious and ethno-cultural communities. Monuments to St. Charbel, Our Lady of Fatima, Élisabeth Bruyère and St. Marguerite d’Youville are visible on the grounds. It is also the home of the Chinese Cemetery of Ottawa, designed according to Chinese religious principles, and distinguished by a Pagoda to honour the community’s ancestors. Beechwood offers its services in both official languages and three dialects of Chinese.
Beechwood has attained important milestones in less than a decade, setting the foundation for its recognition as the national cemetery of Canada. In 2001, it became the National Military Cemetery of the Canadian Forces. In 2002, it was designated as a National Historic Site of Canada, and in 2004, the RCMP National Memorial Cemetery was established here. Finally, in 2007, the Veterans Sections administered by Veterans Affairs Canada and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission were amalgamated with the National Military Cemetery.
By virtue of its location in the nation’s capital, Beechwood Cemetery serves as a focal point for national memorial events such as Remembrance Day, and it is an evocative location for state funerals of Canada’s Governors General and Prime Ministers.