My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This may be the most boring cemetery book I’ve ever read (and I’ve read a lot). I bought a shrink-wrapped copy without paging through it because I’m fascinated by the cemeteries of Montreal, but this book turns out to have few photos of the monuments in Mount Royal Cemetery — and even fewer color views of the cemetery itself. That’s one strike against it.
Rather than illuminating the history of Montreal through the people buried in Mount Royal Cemetery, this book focuses on the business of running the cemetery, including minutiae on cemetery board discussions on how to police the behavior of visitors. There is a whole lot of detail about how burying the poor was seen as a Protestant duty and the rules the cemetery board consequently put in place to punish families who needed assistance burying their dead. Actually I found that quite interesting, although it went on and on.
Often, the most interesting stories in the book appeared in the photo captions, which described some of the controversial figures buried in Mount Royal. It made me wish I was reading a book comprised on the captions, instead of the main text.
To be honest, all things being equal, I prefer to explore Catholic cemeteries over Protestant ones, because Catholic cemeteries tend to have more sculpture and more detailed epitaphs and I can get a better sense of the people buried in them. Perhaps the same can be said for books about Catholic cemeteries vs. Protestant ones?
If you’d like to complete your cemetery book collection, you can buy a copy of Respectable Burial from Amazon: https://amzn.to/38wTMiW
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