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In a recent deputation to Parry Sound Town Council I suggested the Town not unintentionally promote the spreading of human remains through a memorial tree program. I received a fair bit of criticism in the local press for my deputation, apparently at the urging of individuals promoting the memorial tree program.

But how common is the spreading of human ashes (referred to as ‘Cremains’)? The answer is pretty much provided in a recent Time online article (use this link). I forwarded this information in a letter to Town Council last week and as it was not included in the Council Agenda package for this week (why not?) I thought I’d also post the information here.

Well the reality is that human ashes, cremains, are disposed of roughly in the following manner: one-third are buried, one-third are kept in urns (‘that’s Aunt Ida on the shelf’), and one-third are spread outdoors. This latter practice is referred to as ‘wildcatting’. It’s this practice that concerns me. If you plant a memorial tree it seems pretty reasonable that you would spread at least some of the ashes around the tree or in the park the tree was planted in, unless the ashes were already buried in a cemetery. ‘Mom always told us about how much she loved this garden and it’s much easier (and cheaper?) to come visit her here.’

Another interesting fact is that cremation is currently the choice of about 70% of Ontarians and their families. Put the numbers together and it seems almost 25% of all deaths result in ashes being spread outdoors in a private or public setting. And I’ve been told that it does go on in Parry Sound. (You can’t see if you keep your eyes closed.)

I don’t know about you but I’d rather our public parks and gardens be reserved for the living not the dead. I believe that’s what most people think and why we have cemeteries.

Here’s a copy of my letter to Council.

Full House – Parry Sound Style