Another glorious fall day in Montreal, and a perfect opportunity for the Women's Art Society of Montreal to arrange a custom-designed tour of Mount Royal Cemetery.
The cemetery is nowhere near as atmospheric as London's Highgate Cemetery. Having been neglected for several decades, many of the monuments in Highgate are crumbling, and virtually all are covered with moss. The trees grow right out of the graves, causing the monuments to tilt and topple. Some graves still show damage from World War II bombing.
Where Highgate is floridly Victorian in style, Mount Royal is classical. Where Highgate feels like a jungle closing in on the visitor, Mount Royal feels clean, serene, and spacious. The difference was surprising to me, as Mount Royal was established in 1852. I had been hoping to see some beautiful angel statuary, but they were few and far between, no doubt because Mount Royal began as a Protestant institution.
We were escorted around the site by Myriam, our very well-informed guide. She led us to the graves of several well-known artists: Edwin Holgate, Prudence Heward, Marian Scott, Marcelle Ferron and Guido Molinari, as well as those of collectors and benefactors. We saw the final resting places of the Maxwell brothers, both architects, and the famous photographer, William Notman.
Tours on various themes are available to the public for free throughout the year. The 100 different kinds of trees on site are the subject of one tour, and birdwatching is the topic of another. A list of tours is posted on the cemetery's website each spring.