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Research By Topic
Funeral Records

What Is It

Funeral Home records are a little used resource. It may be because Funeral Homes did not become "popular" until the latter part of the 1800's and the early-to-mid 1900's. Many families were used to laying out the deceased in the parlor, dining or living rooms of their home, then having the body taken directly to the cemetery for interment. They saw no use to pay a Funeral Home to do what they could in their home for free. However, as it became common place to use a Funeral Home, a new genealogical resource also came to be.

Records can only be copied for the executor of the estate. If the death took place more than 75 years ago, or the executor is no longer living, next-of-kin can request the record but must prove their relationship to the deceased.

How Do I Find It

First you must know when and where your ancestor died. And, if possible, locate their death record, obituary, or cemetery record (or all three!). One of these resources might mention how the funeral arrangements were handled (obituaries usually do). If you can't locate one of these records, it's still possible to seek out a funeral record, but it will require more work on your part.

If you don't know what funeral home was used check directories, local histories, and newspapers to learn what funeral homes existed at the time of your ancestor's death. If this fails, contact the cemetery where the person was buried they may have the name of the funeral home on file.

Using present day directories (such as Canada 411 - see links below) see if the Funeral Home still exists today. It may not have the same address, but if you find a Funeral Home of the same name in the same town or city you may have found the correct one. Also take note of other Funeral Homes in other locations with the same name - could the Funeral Home you're seeking be part of a "chain" or larger franchise?

If a funeral home goes out of business their records are either destroyed or passed along to the Board of Funeral Services. If a funeral home is sold usually the records stay with the home and become the property of the new owners.

If the Funeral Home you need still exists, contact them. If not, see "Where Can I Find It?" below.

What Does It Offer

Depending upon the Funeral Home, some can offer:

  • Date of death (and possibly the cause as well)
  • Age at death (and sometimes an approximate birth date as well)
  • Date of interment or cremation
  • Place of interment
  • The exact location of burial (if buried)
  • Who paid for the service and their relationship to the deceased
  • The names and sometimes relationship of the pallbearers to the deceased
  • The names of surviving and sometimes deceased family members

    What Does It Look Like

    The example below shows a funeral home record. By clicking on the example you will see a larger version.

    If you have a scan of an Ontario Funeral Record (especially if different from the example above), please consider sending it in to be included as an example.

    Where Can I Find It

    At the Funeral Home itself. As mentioned above, contact the Funeral Home itself if is still in business.

    If the Funeral Home no longer exists contact the local city hall, archives, or historical society to see what happened to the funeral home records. You should also check with genealogy groups and societies in the areas surrounding the funeral home. Several of them gained access to funeral home records and were able to index them.

    The following Q&A was conducted in 2002. A special thank you to: Susan J. Beck, Manager Licensing & Administration, Board of Funeral Services (funeralboard.com) for her help in answering these questions.

    Is there a central repository for funeral home records? If so, where and records for which years?
    BOFS: There is no central depository for funeral home records.

    What happens to funeral records if/when a funeral home is closed?
    BOFS: Funeral home and transfer service records must be retained for a minumum of 10 years. After that, the law does not prohibit their destruction. When a business changes ownership, the records are usually retained by the new owner, but in some circumstances they are retained by the former owner for 10 years.

    Who can request a copy of a funeral record, and where would they request it from?
    BOFS: The Funeral Directors and Establishments Act considers it professional misconduct to fail to respect the confidentiality of information concerning a client, without the consent of that client or his/her personal representative, unless required to do so by law. However, the Board will not consider it professional misconduct if establishements make available to researchers those records of an individual who has been deceased for 75 years.

    Are funeral homes required to keep copies of funeral records? If so, for how many years? After that time period expires what happens to the records?
    BOFS: Funeral homes are required to keep records for a period of 10 years from the date of providing the funeral services or supplies or transfer servces or from the date of the cancellation of the contract.

    Is It Online?

    For the most part, no. Finding Ontario Funeral Records online is hit or miss. There isn't an organized effort to bring any of these records online.

    Alternate Resources

  • Church Records
  • Death Records
  • Newspapers

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