Lakeview Memorial Gardens – A “hidden gem” of a cemetery.
Lakeview Memorial Gardens cemetery in Pointe-Claire is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2015, but the site still remains unknown to many West Islanders.
“This is a non-denominational cemetery,” emphasizes Lakeview director Bob Needham. “We try to accommodate people of all different faiths, customs and traditions.”
The Times was impressed to find sections of various ethnicities at Lakeview; there is a Danish section; a Muslim section (Garden of Islam), a Jewish section, a Buddhist section; and a Filipino section. Elsewhere, the tombstones show remarkable ethnic integration with English names next to French names next to Italian names.
“We allow burial of Jews next to non-Jews,” continues Needham. “According to Jewish tradition, they cannot be buried together, but here we accommodate mixed marriages. We also accommodate cremations which are against Jewish tradition.”
All tombstones in the cemetery face downhill, toward Donegani / Elm Street except for a few rows in the Garden of Islam where tombstones have been reoriented. According to Muslim tradition, bodies should face the holy city of Mecca on their side.
“We also have the only Buddhist Garden in Montreal,” adds Needham. “Lakeview reflects the ethnic diversity of Montreal’s West Island. I only wish more people knew that we are here…”
In fact, there are three cemeteries hidden at the bottom of Elm Street in Beaconsfield; the other two are the Eternal Gardens (Jewish) and the National Field of Honour (military). To access the National Field of Honour, you have to first traverse Lakeview, but the two cemeteries are under different management.
Lakeview is one of 42 cemeteries in Canada that is part of Arbor Memorial Inc, together with 81 funeral homes. The Armstrong-Rideau Funeral Home in Ville St. Laurent and the Rideau Memorial Gardens in DDO are also part of the Arbor group. One advantage of dealing with this group is that pre-planned funeral and cemetery arrangements can be transferred to cemeteries elsewhere in the country if the customer moves. There is often no charge for such a transfer.
Lakeview is a one-stop solution for pre-planning all of your final arrangements. Although there is no funeral home on site, such services are offered through Lakeview’s associated funeral homes on Montreal Island.
There are some 50 hectares of land at Lakeview; Needham estimates that 12,000 burials have taken place since 1915; there is room for as many more. The grounds include large mature trees, smaller trees and shrubs, and a pond with a waterfall. There is a rose garden for cremations as well as a columbarium (niche structure) where the urns are kept above ground.
“We also do eco-friendly interments for those that are environmentally conscious, cremations are actually less friendly than traditional burial…” Lakeview also does burials throughout the winter, unlike some other cemeteries that wait until spring.
Cremations are becoming increasingly popular, but Needham cautions against spreading the ashes at the family cottage, for instance. “Cottages and homes may no longer be family property after a few years. It is better to have the cremated remains at a cemetery which will always be accessible and cared for.”
A full-time, non-unionized staff of three manages the grounds year round; additional staff are hired for the summer.
“With only, on average, three burials a week, we are a smaller cemetery,” he said. “but this means we can provide special services like shutting down the entire cemetery for a burial. That way there are no lawnmowers or backhoes digging in the background. I like the fact that we can preserve the dignity of a graveside service. We can take a personal interest in every family we look after.”
Needham stresses the importance of making pre-arrangements instead of leaving survivors with “difficult choices on the worst day of their lives.” In addition, pre-arrangements mean that customers can pay today’s costs and spread that out over time. At Lakeview you can get your “Peace of Mind” starting as low as $75 a month for 48 months.
Lakeview Memorial Gardens
701 Donegani, Pointe Claire
(access via Elm Street in Beaconsfield)
H9R 5G6 514.694.9294