A Better Place: Death and Burial in Nineteenth-Century Ontario


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Medieval Europe witnessed great funeral pageantry. The Protestant Reformation reintroduced some of the earlier concepts and by the 17th and 18th Century the English "undertaker" was becoming a recognized occupation. Canada's very early days were noted in journals and diaries of the time, but little is known of her first settlers' funeral practices, other than they were, of necessity, simple.

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Dy Au 13 Ag 17 y. Not far from T. On July 25th, , Buchner fought in the historic battle named after that road, on his own land, and later watched as his fences were torn down to build a funeral pyre for the slain of both sides. Ontario's funeral customs grew out of such notable pioneering events. In those days, before the nation of Canada was ever contemplated, settlers from many parts of Europe brought to their new homeland age-old customs.

Funerals were more commonly carried out in the parlours of the early Ontario homes. Then, as the towns and villages grew, people turned to their cabinet maker and furniture maker to supply the casket and provide transportation from home to grave.


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A pioneer Ontario funeral director related to his colleagues earlier in this century that the only qualifications for a nineteenth century funeral director were the possession of a fine pair of black horses and a suitable black suit of clothes. Transportation was an important concern to the first Ontario funeral directors. With the infant death rate so high, those in larger communities often had two horse drawn hearses standing by at all times.

One was for adults and was coloured black, even to the netting covering all but the horses' ears. The other was the children's hearse, white and delicately decorated with white feather bows and white netting. In , three funeral directors from Niagara Falls, Hamilton and Toronto began using the new technique of embalming.

Canada's funeral directors realized soon after Confederation, that theirs was a professional calling and they founded the Canadian Undertakers' Association in For the most part, the public little understands that the funeral director can carry out up to different duties in the provision of a funeral service. It stands to reason that the person you select to serve your family should be known in advance of need and it is quite realistic to make such a selection.

When death occurs, there is little time for investigation or comparison. A funeral director can be judged like any other professional or business person. Select someone who is competent and efficient.. Look for one who maintains an immaculate establishment.. When death occurs, the first thing to do is call your funeral home. The earlier they are called, the earlier you will have the comfort of knowing that they are taking care of the many details that are involved. It is important to remember that your funeral director is "on call" twenty-four hours a day every day of the year.

No matter whether they are needed in the middle of the day or during the night, they will respond at once ready to assist you.

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The funeral director will make an appointment to discuss your wishes and assist you in deciding upon an appropriate service. The attending physician must declare the person dead before transfer to the funeral home can take place from the home or hospital. This certificate, together with the Statement of Death, must be completed in full before registration of the death can take place and before a Burial Permit can be issued by the local registrar.

When a death occurs within 24 hours of admission to a hospital, in nursing homes, other institutions or is due to other than natural causes, a coroner will investigate the death. The coroner has the authority to order an autopsy without the consent of the next-of-kin. The authorization of a coroner is required prior to cremation or transfer of a body outside the province. Someone you loved has died.

You are about to make funeral arrangements. You must consider many things. After the funeral, you cannot undo or change what was done. If you are like most people, you are distressed and you will go through a trying time, because for many people there is no more difficult period than that encountered immediately after death. John Donne has stated "No man is an island. Every man's death diminishes me.

When arranging a funeral consider the feelings of others who shared in or benefited by the life of the deceased. For it is said sorrow shared is sorrow diminished. The funeral provides the community an opportunity to acknowledge and to respond to the change that death has brought about.

In the process, some of your needs will be met as well; but, experience indicates this will not be accomplished by getting the funeral over with as quickly as possible. Traveling clergymen may have registered marriages with civil authorities in any district or county along their way. Look at all records of churches and clergymen in the area, especially Roman Catholic and Anglican churches, which were not always required to register marriages with district or county authorities.

If you find a marriage in the district or county registers, see if you can find it in the church records as well. There may be new information. At certain periods of the history of a Province, only certain denominations were allowed to perform marriages. In many cases individuals were married by a priest or minister of a religion other than their own. Try searching for known and possible family members, such as brothers and sisters, in the marriage records. The more family members you search for, the more likely you are to find one of them in the records.

First look for marriage records of other family members, such as a spouse, brothers or sisters, parents and children. The Family History Library has microfilm copies of some civil vital records registration or indexes of many provinces and counties in eastern Canada. However, some records were destroyed, were not available for microfilming, or were restricted from public access by the laws of the country or province. You may research records at the library, but the library does not issue or certify certificates for living or deceased individuals.

Most of these records date from the late 19th century. For civil registration records, see the Locality Search of the FamilySearch Catalog under all of these headings:. The library now has these and other sources some of which are described in the Wiki articles for each province. British Columbia. The provincial government began registering births, marriages, and deaths in The early records are very incomplete.

The library has:. New Brunswick. The provincial government began recording births, marriages, and deaths in Nova Scotia. In the provincial government began registering vital statistics, but the records were not complete. The government quit registering births and deaths in and began again in The Family History Library has:.

Registration of vital statistics began officially in Ontario on 1 July A substantially complete registration was achieved by Check it again every year for the records you need. Vital records dating from the 20th century are at the vital records office for each province.

Canada Vital Records

Earlier records may be at vital records offices or at provincial archives. To protect the rights of privacy of living persons, access to and use of most modern records is restricted. A general discussion of record-keeping practices and the vital records available in each province is in the genealogical handbooks listed in "For Further Reading.

Kemp, Thomas J. International Vital Records Handbook. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co. Some Canadian sample forms and fee schedules are outdated. This guide is not available at Family History Centers. For current specific details, contact the provincial archives or the vital statistics offices named in the Wiki research articles for the province. Vital Records Offices. Each province has its own schedule of fees for vital records searches. Many offices want requests made on their own special forms.

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Some offices will search a three- or five-year time period on either side of the date you suggest, but some will search only a specific day, month, and year. If the original certificate is found, a genealogical abstract is provided for no additional fee.

Photocopies of the original certificates are not usually provided. Many of these have been microfilmed and are available at the Family History Library. To request records from other archives and records not yet microfilmed, write to the provincial archives mentioned in the Wiki research article for the province. City Archives. City archives in Canada may have copies of vital records, but they cannot furnish copies.

By law, requests for vital records must be addressed to the appropriate provincial archives or vital records offices. Archive inventories see "Archives and Libraries" describe the record-keeping systems and available civil registration records in Canada. After deciding who has jurisdiction over the records for the time period you need, write a brief request to the proper office. Request for a photocopy of the original document. If this is not available, request a "genealogical certificate" if you want the most detail possible.

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If your request is unsuccessful, search for duplicate records that may have been filed in other archives or church registers or for newspaper obituaries and cemetery records. Information about deaths and some family information may be included in wills and other probate records. Birth dates can be estimated from censuses.

To request editing rights on the Wiki, click here. From FamilySearch Wiki. Canada Research Topics.

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Vital Records. Category : Canada Vital Records. Navigation menu Personal tools English. Namespaces Page Talk. Views Read View source View history. Research Wiki. This page was last edited on 24 May , at This page has been viewed 2, times 0 via redirect Content is available under Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike unless otherwise noted. Beginning Research. Research Strategies Record Finder.

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A Better Place: Death and Burial in Nineteenth-Century Ontario A Better Place: Death and Burial in Nineteenth-Century Ontario
A Better Place: Death and Burial in Nineteenth-Century Ontario A Better Place: Death and Burial in Nineteenth-Century Ontario
A Better Place: Death and Burial in Nineteenth-Century Ontario A Better Place: Death and Burial in Nineteenth-Century Ontario
A Better Place: Death and Burial in Nineteenth-Century Ontario A Better Place: Death and Burial in Nineteenth-Century Ontario
A Better Place: Death and Burial in Nineteenth-Century Ontario A Better Place: Death and Burial in Nineteenth-Century Ontario
A Better Place: Death and Burial in Nineteenth-Century Ontario A Better Place: Death and Burial in Nineteenth-Century Ontario

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