Beechwood’s Mausoleum

The Beechwood Mausoleum is the magestic stone building that sits on a small hill overlooking Beechwood’s main entrance and the Beechwood National Memorial Center. Construction began in the late 1920s, with the Mausoleum being completed in 1930. A building of considerable architectural merit, it was constructed by a company separate from the cemetery, Canada Mausoleums Ltd.

The arrangement between the two was complex – in Beechwood’s case, the mausoleum company absorbed the costs for the construction and in turn was responsible for selling crypts, thus receiving all profits from the sales. Beechwood negotiated a percentage of each sale, which was to cover perpetual care. Unfortunately, this amount was never paid to the cemetery – once the majority of the crypts had been sold, the owner of Canada Mausoleums Ltd. disappeared, leaving several construction companies unpaid, too! Beechwood took possession of the mausoleum and sold the remaining crypts.

The mausoleum’s Gothic architecture, first introduced to Ottawa when the Parliament Buildings were constructed, represents a revival of certain features of ancient buildings, particularly elaborately-carved stonework depicting mythological and other creatures, and the use of finely-crafted stained glass windows. 

The centre of the Mausoleum contains the Chapel. While the altar has since been removed, the spectacular solid bronze Chapel doors are still in place. The doors, embossed with symbols of the Christian faith, open to reveal the vaulted ceilings and stained glass windows, created by artist James Blomfield.

In 1962 the mausoleum took on an additional function when its lower level was made into a crematorium. When it first opened there was little demand for its service, and after ten years only about one in five Beechwood burials was of cremation ashes. Now the ratio is roughly three-fifths of all burials at Beechwood are of urns. Columbarium niches of bronze, glass and marble can now be found throughout the corridors of the Mausoleum and in the Chapel.

 

Additional Facts:

  • Today, the Mausoleum is used primarily for private family ceremonies.
  • The altar was removed from the Chapel in the late 1990’s to make room for the construction of columbarium niches.
  • The crematorium in the Mausoleum has since been replaced with a more modern facility, located out of the way in the cemetery’s work yard.
  • The Mausoleum contains 546 crypts housing some of Ottawa’s most prominent citizens of the past, including:
    • Father of Confederation, William McDougall;
    • The longest serving mayor of Ottawa, Stanley Lewis;
    • Businessman James Woods, of Woods camping gear; and
    • Business man Warren Soper, who brought electricity to Ottawa in 1885.
  • The Mausoleum cost over $1 million to build.
  • The Mausoleum is built over what was a second quarry on Beechwood’s grounds.