More on-site funeral services prompt changes at P.E.I. funeral homes

A number of funeral homes on Prince Edward Island are getting more and more requests from people choosing to have services on site.

'It's just convenient to have it at the funeral home,' says one owner

Staff at Central Queen's Funeral Home hope to expand the facility by adding a larger chapel and embalming room. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

Prince Edward Island funeral homes are seeing more and more people choosing to have services at funeral homes, rather than in churches. 

Central Queen's Funeral Home manager Chris Gallant says about 40 per cent of clients choose to have a funeral service on-site, rather than at a church.

He says that's up from about 20 per cent 15 years ago.

As result, the New Glasgow funeral home is planning a major expansion — adding a chapel and an embalming room to the facility. 

"The chapel is usually full, and that's a makeshift chapel that we make from the wake room," said Lois Lajeunesse, president of the board of directors for the funeral home. 

Fewer church services 

Gallant says there are a variety of reasons for choosing using funeral home facilities for services.

"Some people are looking for a non-denominational type service. And maybe they're not attached to any particular local church in the area. And so we offer the chapel service to them."

Central Queen's Funeral Home is planning to expand its facilities to meet the growing demand for on-site funeral services. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

Space may also be a factor, especially if a larger funeral service is planned.

"Some of the rural churches are smaller. And so we may offer a larger space in our area," Gallant said. 

Trend at many funeral homes 

Owners of several other Island funeral homes say they've noticed a similar trend.

David Smith, the owner of Rooney Funeral Home in Alberton said he decided to add a chapel two years ago, based on demand from clients.

We find that things get very congested.- Chris Gallant, Central Queen's Funeral Home

He said most Catholic families still opt for a church service.

But those from other denominations and non-churchgoers are increasingly opting for a funeral home service, he said.

"It's just convenient to have it at the funeral home." 

The owners of MacLean Funeral Home Swan Chapel in Charlottetown and Moase Funeral Home in Summerside also said they've noticed more people opting for on-site services in recent years. 

'Very congested'

The current room used for funeral services at Central Queen's Funeral Home can fit about 160 people. Lajeunesse said there are often people sitting in the adjacent overflow area, and sometimes people are even standing. 

Plans for facility's new chapel include space for 180 seats, with more overflow space.

Gallant said having more space and seating for funerals and for wakes is important. 

"We find that things get very congested. And so giving people a place to sit down is certainly something we want to be able to do," he said. 

He said he's particularly concerned about having enough seating for elderly people, and people with mobility issues. 

Staff presented initial plans for the expansion during the funeral home's annual general meeting Saturday, and members voted to move forward with the process.

Gallant said he hopes to have plans finalized and for work to start as soon as possible. 

More P.E.I. News

About the Author

Sarah MacMillan

Sarah MacMillan is a journalist with CBC P.E.I.