Newly-elected chair of the Mount Patricia Cemetery Association, Priscilla Boutcher, during the association's annual general meeting Tuesday. — Star photo by Geraldine Brophy
More and more families in this area are opting for cremation when their loved ones die.
According to numbers released in the Mount Patricia Cemetery Association’s annual report, of the 175 burials throughout 2013, 73 of them — or 42 per cent — were cremations. Traditional burials made up the other 58 per cent.
“It’s a sign of the times, it’s happening with a lot of families,” said newly-elected association chair Priscilla Boutcher. “We all can see a difference.”
Boutcher said she remembers a time when people would have to get permission from the leaders of their church in order to have the option of a cremation, but said that doesn’t happen anymore.
“It’s getting more common than it was years ago,” she said. “I think you’ll see a lot more of this as the years go by.”
Cemetery custodian Rod McGinn agrees and, in fact, is surprised it took this long for the trend to hit this province. He said cremation percentages in Ontario and Quebec are likely up around 60 per cent at this point. The 42 per cent in this area is still quite a jump, however.
“The last three or four years here it averaged around 30 per cent,” he said. “A couple of years it went up to 32, a couple were around 28.
“All of a sudden, this year it went up again.”
McGinn said it seems to take this province a little longer to embrace change, especially with something as traditional as a funeral. In his almost-20 years involved in the funeral business, he said cremations were nearly unheard of for the first 10 years.
“In a matter of five years, it kind of exploded,” he said. “We knew it was coming, but I didn’t think it was going to hit so hard.”
Holding a regular funeral and opting for cremation isn’t any cheaper for families, McGinn said, but it could have an impact on cemetery revenues. The cemetery still sells a full plot to people who opt for cremation, but instead of just one body taking up the space, they could fit as many as three for the price of only one plot.
“For us, cremation is making a huge difference, revenue-wise,” he said. “This is why, with the new cemetery committee, planning and strategy is so important.
“As more people get cremated, our revenue shrinks a bit,” he added. “Quite a bit, actually.”