Last night, Robyn and I went to Mountain View Cemetery, located on 122 acres of land just east of the city. Results of that visit will be shared, but I thought readers might like to know a bit about our city’s older cemeteries.
This city is young – only 134 years old – but its history is rich and storied, beginning with the arrival of the North West Mounted Police in 1875. And the city’s oldest cemetery, which is only a year younger than the city itself, is sure to have many tales to tell, if the eyes and ears are open to the whispers of the past…
St. Mary’s Cemetery
The city’s first cemetery was established by the Roman Catholic mission in 1876. Later abandoned, the graves were moved to St. Mary’s Cemetery. The city took over the operation of the cemetery in 1935. St. Mary’s Cemetery sits on 7.1 hectares of land. As of 1997, there are 15,018 burials.
The oldest burial ground in the city is Union Cemetery. Many of the founders and early pioneers of Calgary and district are buried here. In the spring of 1891, Council had this section of land surveyed into burial plots for immediate use. Prior to that date, the site known as Shaganappi Point, which is the current site of the Shaganappi Golf Course, was used for burials. However, poor soil conditions forced the city to seek an alternate site. Currently, Union Cemetery is comprised of some 20 hectares of land, with some 20,911 burials as of 1997.
This cemetery is next to Union Cemetery. It was established in 1923 and is 13 hectares in size. There have been 22,061 burials as of 1997.
This cemetery is designated for the burial of people of Chinese origin. According to custom, all gravestones face west so that the buried receive the morning sunshine. The city took over this cemetery in 1938. It is the city’s smallest cemetery with approximately 1.4 hectares of land and 1,048 burials as of 1997.
Queen’s Park Cemetery
This cemetery has been in operation since 1940 and is 54 hectares in size. This is the city’s largest cemetery operation. There have been 51,557 burials as of 1997. Queen’s Park Mausoleum, a $2.1 million facility, was built by Calgary Parks & Recreation in the fall of 1997 in response to an increasing demand for this service.
So, there you have it. Some information on Calgary’s oldest cemeteries. Currently, information is being gathered on Mountain View Memorial Gardens for use in our upcoming post about the results of our visit last night. Stay tuned!