Vancouver’s Only Cemetery
After the incorporation of the city, newly elected councillors got down the business of providing much needed services. With Deadman Island unsuitable, land for a new cemetery was sought. A 6.9 hectare plot of land was granted to the City by the provincial government set between the present day 33rd and 37th Avenues on what would become Fraser Street. Mountain View Cemetery had its first burial in February, 1887. It grew quickly and more than 145,000 souls have been laid to rest within its 42.9 hectares. Owned and operated by the City of Vancouver since 1886, Mountain View is made up of 106 acres of land with approximately 92,000 grave sites and 145,000 interred remains located west of Fraser St, between 31st Ave and 43rd Ave.
Significant Events and Ordinary Citizens Commemorated
Significant events are commemorated at Mountain View through the burial of victims from shipping disasters such as the Princess Sophia, railway crashes, the Rogers Pass Avalanche and the street car disaster at Lakeview Station. The cemetery is the resting place for fourteen Vancouver mayors, city firemen, police officers and ordinary citizens.
Early on in its history, special agreements were entered into with a number of fraternal organizations to set aside blocks of graves in the Jones Addition for the Masonic Order (Ancient Free and Accepted Masons), the Odd fellows, and the Knights of Pythias. In the “Old Cemetery”, graves were reserved for the Jewish, Chinese and Japanese communities. All three communities have recently refurbished, updated and reengaged with the history at the cemetery and often walking tours are conducted to learn more: Jewish Section, Chinese Pavilion and and Japanese Canadian Veterans. The cemetery offers many opportunities to learn about its history. Take a Self-Guided Tour
By the 1980s, with the cemetery considered full, grave sales stopped and for the next quarter of a century little activity took place except for lawn mowing and accommodating burials in already purchased lots. With expenses climbing, interest was expressed in handing management of Mountain View to private interests. However, the City took a new look at the potential for reopening and revitalizing the cemetery itself and in 2000 approved a Master Plan to provide a framework for its redevelopment over the next 100 years.
Annual events such as All Souls are family-oriented and reflect the tradition of many cultures around the world where the days at the end of October and beginning of November are a time for honouring the dead in our lives through ceremony and celebration and the maintenance of family grave sites.