As the concept began to materialize however, it became apparent that the fundamental purpose of establishing an RCMP cemetery in Ottawa was to honour the members and their families who dedicated their lives to the peace and security of this country as the notion of the “police family” has always been a distinguishing characteristic of the RCMP. What therefore began as a vision of a veterans’ cemetery quickly evolved and the concept of an RCMP National Memorial Cemetery unfolded as the true meaning of the RCMP family became the focus of the discussions. Regina, home to the RCMP Depot Division Training Academy, is the site of the RCMP Regimental Cemetery. The differences between this site and Beechwood are noteworthy as the latter presents a dignified alternative sanctuary that includes the families and dependents of our employees.
The vision of an RCMP National Memorial Cemetery officially began in 2001 as an initiative of the RCMP Veterans’ Association (Ottawa Division). Originally, the site was conceived for RCMP Veterans and it was named the RCMP Veterans’ Cemetery in a bilateral agreement signed on September 1.
Photo (L>R): Tim Graham, Beechwood Foundation, RCMP Commissioner Guiliano Zaccardelli (rtd), the President of the Beechwood Foundation Mrs. Grete Hale, Al Haggerty, President RCMP Veterans’ Association (Ottawa Division)
Dedicated veterans and representatives of the RCMP, in partnership with Beechwood Cemetery, successfully acquired a parcel of land at Beechwood to be the final resting place for deceased members of the NWMP, the RNWMP and employees of the RCMP and their families. The site is immediately adjacent to the National Military Cemetery and strategically positioned within the grounds of Beechwood Cemetery.
The RCMP symbolizes Canada’s commitment to peace and security both domestically and internationally. It is a proud organization comprised of individuals who endorse this vision fully and who are profoundly committed to its achievement. However, this reality of service to the RCMP is not without personal sacrifice to the families of its dedicated employees. The RCMP National Memorial Cemetery at Beechwood is within Canada’s National Cemetery in Ottawa. It was created to recognize the significant contribution of the families of the members of the North West Mounted Police, (NWMP), the Royal North West Mounted Police (RNWMP), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and employees of the RCMP.
The vision was realized with the official dedication ceremony at Beechwood on October 17, 2004 and the site was officially named the RCMP National Memorial Cemetery on January 11, 2006 in a Tripartite Agreement in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding signed by (Photo below L>R) Chief Superintendent Al Rivard (rtd), President of the RCMP Veterans’ Association (Ottawa Division), RCMP Commissioner Guiliano Zaccardelli (rtd), the President of the Beechwood Foundation Mrs. Grete Hale.
The Ottawa Division of the RCMP Veterans’ Association is the driving force in actively promoting the creation and continued development of the RCMP National Memorial Cemetery at Beechwood as a legacy of the past and vision for the future.
The concept of the RCMP National Memorial Cemetery at Beechwood is unique in the sense that it was conceived for the exclusive use of all employees of the RCMP, regular members, civilian members and public servants and their families. This is an important consideration as the unwavering support of the families of all employees has always been a distinguishing factor in their lives.
It is only fitting that Beechwood, the National Cemetery of Canada, is the chosen site as it is a beautiful public site where 300,000 visitors per year can pay their respects to those who have committed their lives to peace and good order on behalf of all Canadians.
The RCMP National Memorial Cemetery at Beechwood is a legacy to the Force’s intricate role in the history of Canada from sea to sea to sea. It demonstrates the appreciation, respect, recognition, and unwavering commitment of the RCMP to its employees and their families.
The creation of the National Military Cemetery and the RCMP National Memorial Cemetery, with land shared for the internment of our policing partners of the Ottawa Police Service (OPS), and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), signify that Beechwood Cemetery is truly a place of honour for all Canadians.