A history of Montreal’s Baron de Hirsch Cemetery by
Danny Kucharsky with photographs by D.R. Cowles

At the turn of the 20th century, more Jewish immigrants were arriving In Montreal than anywhere else on the continent, and the city's small middle-class Jewish community suddenly had to meet the burial needs of many new, mostly poor, arrivals who had little affiliation with the local congregations. Out of this crisis, the Baron de Hirsch Cemetery, one of Canada's largest Jewish cemeteries, was established on an undeveloped expanse of swampland, now in the heart of the city.

Published to mark the Cemetery's centennial, Sacred Ground on de la Savane traces the growth of the many burial societies and synagogues that make up its parts and explains how the Cemetery tackles issues all Jewish cemeteries must face: security, burial rituals, modern management techniques, and monument repair.

The Baron de Hirsch Cemetery is home to a wide variety of people who have shaped the city and its Jewish community. Mini-profiles highlight some of the site's 75,000 residents including a Titanic victim, acclaimed poet A.M. Klein, a bagel maker, Yiddish Theatre of Montreal founder Dora Wasserman, gambling kingpin Harry Ship, a monument maker, and other well-known Canadian authors, politicians and artists. A selection of epitaphs, touching, poetic – and sometimes humourous – make an interesting chapter.

The book concludes with a walking tour of the 40 acre site, in which the author takes us through some of the Cemetery's fascinating but lesser known places, including unmarked children's graves, the war veterans' Field of Honour, sacred burial huts housing the remains of learned rabbis, and memorials containing the ashes of Holocaust victims.

Sacred Ground on de la Savane is illustrated with archival photos and a 12-page duotone portfolio of photographs by D.R. Cowles. An award-winning journalist, author Danny Kucharsky has written for over 50 magazines, newspapers and travel books in Canada and the United States.

The work of Montreal photographer D.R. Cowles is represented in numerous collections, including the National Gallery of Canada and the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography.

Sacred Ground on de la Savane is available at bookstores and directly from the Cemetery at a cost of $20.00