New Crematorium Opening at Notre Dame Cemetery

Krystine Therriault - Seaway News
New Crematorium Opening at Notre Dame Cemetery
L to R: Sebastien Litalien, General Manager/Engineer of Pyrox Industries in Quebec that designed the new Cremator; Tracy Cameron, Cemeteries Manager; Cecil Marsolais, Crematory Operator (Photo : Submitted photo)

As the number of casket burials dwindles and more people choose to be cremated, Notre Dame Cemetery is happy to announce their investment in a new crematorium that will serve the community for years to come.

Notre-Dame Cemetery opened in 1961 when the two Catholic Cemeteries in Cornwall (Nativity and St. Columban’s) were sold out of lots. Notre Dame cemetery currently has two cremators in the front building, along with a large vault for winter casket storage. The first cremator was purchased in 1983 – back when they only did 2 or 3 cremations a week. The second cremator was purchased in 1995. Both have put in their time and are ready to be replaced.

Notre Dame Cemetery facilitated 900 cremations last year, compared to approximately 350 per year 18 years ago.

Along with the new cremator comes a brand-new building to house it, located at the back of the cemetery rather than right next to the cemetery office. The new building will serve as a crematorium and winter vault storage for caskets for spring burials.

“New, since Covid, the Bereavement Authority of Ontario (which is our governing body) requested that anyone who had vault storage for caskets be ready to take on any surplus in Ontario,” said Tracy Cameron, Cemeteries Manager, referring to the possibility of a pandemic or natural disaster that would require an increase in the storage of caskets, “Because we had one of the largest vaults in Ontario, we did the same for the new building, so that we can accommodate should the need arise.”

One notable feature of the new crematorium is a viewing room. This is for “witnessing a cremation” or simply a “cremation viewing.” Family members may watch as the body is brought into the cremation retort and the process of cremation is begun.

The new cremator was built inTerrebonne, Quebec, a welcome change from the first two units that came from Florida.

“It’s been challenging for repairs and general maintenance, finding technicians,” Cameron explained, “With this new unit, technicians are only an hour away. The cremator is very modern; techs can use an iPad from anywhere to monitor/troubleshoot it at any time. It is more efficient and will be able to handle the increased demand/volume of cremations.”

The building at the front of Notre-Dame was originally built for office space to accommodate one cemetery. Since then, the team at Notre-Dame has taken on the operations of 8 parish cemeteries and could use a little more room! When the new crematorium is up and running, the old building will be renovated to offer more office space, a public washroom (there is currently only a port-a-potty outside for the public), and a small chapel/reception area for inclement weather.

After two years of delays due to COVID-19 and supply shortages, the new crematorium is finally ready to open by mid-March. Renovations to the old building can be expected to start by late spring/early summer.

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