Beech­wood is home to the Na­tional Mil­i­tary Ceme­tery and the Ottawa Po­lice Ser­vice Me­mo­rial Ceme­tery


For Manon Bourbeau, work­ing at Beech­wood Fu­neral, Ceme­tery and Cre­ma­tion Ser­vices is much more than a job.

Bourbeau is li­ai­son to the Na­tional Mil­i­tary Ceme­tery and the Ottawa Po­lice Ser­vice Me­mo­rial Ceme­tery, part of a team ar­rang­ing fu­ner­als and memo­ri­als for the uni­formed few who ded­i­cated their lives to ser­vice.

She says it’s the best job she’s ever had a pas­sion, and more.

“For me, it’s a call­ing,” says Bourbeau, 38. “It’s what I have to do. I love deal­ing with fam­i­lies. There’s a sat­is­fac­tion at the end of the day that I have made a dif­fer­ence. I like the feel­ing I get from that.”

Bourbeau of­fers com­fort and peace of mind to fam­i­lies of mil­i­tary and po­lice mem­bers and veter­ans, act­ing as the go-be­tween in ar­rang­ing of­fi­cial cer­e­monies and memo­ri­als.

She nav­i­gates ap­proval pro­cesses for ser­vices pro­vided by the Depart­ment of Na­tional De­fence that can in­clude an hon­our guard, bu­gler, piper and padre. And she helps co-or­di­nate the pur­chase, pro­duc­tion and in­stal­la­tion of head­stones that meet DND spec­i­fi­ca­tions.

All serv­ing and hon­ourably re­leased mem­bers of the Cana­dian Armed Forces and Mer­chant Navy plus one fam­ily mem­ber are el­i­gi­ble for in­ter­ment in the Na­tional Mil­i­tary Ceme­tery. More than 200 war dead are also buried there.

The Na­tional Mil­i­tary Ceme­tery at Beech­wood con­tains four sec­tions spread through­out the ceme­tery. These in­clude a sec­tion man­aged by Veter­ans Af­fairs Canada, two Com­mon­wealth War Grave sec­tions and the new­est sec­tion, the Na­tional Mil­i­tary Ceme­tery of the Cana­dian Forces, man­aged by the Depart­ment of Na­tional De­fence.

Mil­i­tary per­son­nel from every prov­ince and ter­ri­tory have been buried at Beech­wood since it was de­clared the Na­tional Mil­i­tary Ceme­tery in 2001. It cur­rently has 12,000 spa­ces for both tra­di­tional in­ter­ments and cre­mated re­mains. The graves can­not be pre-se­lected, and are not al­lo­cated on the ba­sis of rank, ser­vice, reg­i­ment or per­sonal pref­er­ence.

Bourbeau can also ar­range to have the urn or cas­ket placed for vis­i­ta­tion on the black gran­ite plinth in the Hall of Colours, an area re­served for the ex­clu­sive use of mil­i­tary mem­bers and veter­ans.

Sun­light streams onto the plinth through the hall’s stained­glass win­dow, do­nated by the Cana­dian Mil­i­tary Chap­lains’ As­so­ci­a­tion. The laid-up colours of Cana­dian mil­i­tary reg­i­ments hang around the room.

The Ottawa Po­lice Me­mo­rial Ceme­tery was opened in 2015 for serv­ing and re­tired sworn mem­bers of the ser­vice, as well as spe­cial con­sta­bles, civil­ian mem­bers, board mem­bers and their fam­i­lies. Ap­provals are done through the Ottawa Po­lice Ser­vices.

Bourbeau is on a com­mit­tee fundrais­ing and plan­ning for a pa­rade square and cen­tral me­mo­rial for the po­lice ceme­tery. She says a colum­bar­ium will be erected down the road.

The Ottawa Po­lice Ser­vice Me­mo­rial Ceme­tery Com­mit­tee wel­comes the sup­port. The Beech­wood Ceme­tery Foun­da­tion is­sues tax-de­ductible re­ceipts for do­na­tions of $20 or more.

Beech­wood is at the van­guard of an in­dus­try-wide move­ment to­ward pre­ar­ranged fu­ner­als, an op­tion that can save the con­fu­sion, pres­sure and heartache that can come with try­ing to co­or­di­nate last-minute lo­gis­tics at emo­tional times.

Pre­ar­rang­ing a fu­neral also locks in costs fu­neral prices dou­ble every decade and pre­vents sur­vivors from emo­tional over­spend­ing. Pre­ar­range­ment en­sures your send-off will be con­ducted just the way you want it, as well as en­sures a dig­ni­fied and ef­fi­cient fu­neral and in­ter­ment.

Along with a trend to­ward cre­ma­tion, Bourbeau says pre­ar­range­ment is the big­gest shift she’s seen in an in­dus­try where she started at a small-town fu­neral home 17 years ago. She “joined the Beech­wood fam­ily” 12 years ago.

Since her ca­reer be­gan, Bourbeau has noticed an­other change within the in­dus­try: “Nowa­days, ser­vices are more a cel­e­bra­tion of life than a tra­di­tional fu­neral,” she says. “And with the mil­i­tary, it warms the heart to hear their sto­ries and see how they have shared so much and bonded just like a fam­ily.”

She’s at the fore­front of a na­tional cam­paign, en­sur­ing veter­ans and mil­i­tary mem­bers across the coun­try are aware of Beech­wood’s role and avail­abil­ity.

Beech­wood Fu­neral, Ceme­tery and Cre­ma­tion Ser­vices is owned by Beech­wood Ceme­tery Foun­da­tion, a reg­is­tered Cana­dian char­ity gov­erned by a vol­un­teer board of direc­tors. All funds con­trib­ute to ceme­tery main­te­nance, preser­va­tion and en­hance­ment.

The sprawl­ing ceme­tery is the last rest­ing place of many of the coun­try’s great writ­ers, ex­plor­ers, in­ven­tors and en­trepreneurs. They rest along­side sol­diers, law­mak­ers, law-keep­ers and, most of all, the beloved.

There are 80,000 of them through­out the 143-year-old site, com­prised of 65 hectares of greenspace, gar­dens and forests. They rep­re­sent all races, faiths and cul­tures and every so­cial sta­tus. Their head­stones re­late the epic story of the land be­yond Beech­wood’s bound­aries.

The grounds, with their wind­ing path­ways, cas­cad­ing gar­dens and ma­jes­tic trees, are steeped in tra­di­tion and beauty.

For more in­for­ma­tion visit http://www.beech­woodot­tawa. ca/ceme­tery-burial-op­tions/ sec­tions-honouring-mil­i­taryand-po­lice-ser­vices/the-na­tional-mil­i­tary-ceme­tery-2/ or call 613-686-3660.


Manon Bourbeau, li­ai­son to the Na­tional Mil­i­tary Ceme­tery and the Ottawa Po­lice Ser­vice Me­mo­rial Ceme­tery at Beech­wood.

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