October 28th, 2022

Lecture | Cemeteries of Montréal

Lecture | Cemeteries of Montréal

Friday, October 28
7 pm

Multimedia Room

Regular: $7
Members: $4

In French

Explore the history of the two oldest cemeteries in Montréal!

For Halloween, Pointe-à-Callière is inviting you to delve into the history of Montréal’s first Catholic cemetery and the Back River Jewish cemetery.

The ways in which the dead are buried and commemorated says a lot about the living. Studying cemeteries tells us about the ways in which communities organize themselves, coexist, and evolve. As places of remembrance, they are silent witnesses to that which we wish to leave behind for future generations.

Listen as archaeologist Louise Pothier reveals the secrets of Montréal’s first Catholic cemetery, discovered in 1989 during digs at the site of Pointe-à-Callière. Established in 1643 following the death of three Montréalistes, it contains 38 graves, 12 of which belong to Indigenous individuals of the Anishinaabe and Wendat nations. Research on this cemetery, whose remains can be seen at the Museum, has led to a better understanding of the relationship between the French and Indigenous peoples in the early days of the colony, as well as confirming the identity of the people buried there.

Next, we make our way to Ahuntsic with historian Anna Sheftel to explore one of the oldest—and yet not very well-known—Jewish cemeteries in Canada, the Back River cemetery. How did a Jewish cemetery come to be in a predominantly French-Canadian neighbourhood? What does it tell us about the arrival of Jewish immigrants in Montréal and their settlement in the city? What does it say about the district’s urban development, the challenges of integration and coexistence among immigrant and host communities?


Louise Pothier, Curator and Chief Archaeologist at Pointe-à-Callière
Anna Sheftel, historian and Director of the School of Community and Public Affairs at Concordia University.