Morbid Curiosities

2014-054 WHS Casket

2014-054 WHS – Image of a man kneeling in front of a casket

Ok, I will admit it – I have a fascination with death. Perhaps, it is a hazard of being a genealogist and local history librarian, but I think that it comes from a deep and visceral level. We all die. It’s a fate that we cannot escape. The myriad of rituals and beliefs tied up with death and dying makes the obsession that much more intriguing.

I am a regular obituary reader. Daily, I’ll scan over the obituaries online to see if I recognize a name, a face or family. While I may not personally know the departed, I often recognize distant and former neighbours, co-workers, or casual acquaintances. As I grow older, the recognition of names, sadly, becomes more frequent.

Funerals are another curiosity of mine. The ceremony, rituals, beliefs and practices of death and its commemoration are fascinating – especially when seen over time. And I’ve always wondered about the special breed of people that choose or find themselves in this field of work.

Marion Roes knows much about funeral home history in Waterloo Region. Her family founded the Dreisinger Funeral Home in Elmira. Come join me on Monday November 16th @ 7pm at Country Hills Community Library, 1500 Block Line Road, Kitchener to hear Marion’s updated talk on funeral home history in Kitchener. She is sharing her vast knowledge and research on local funeral homes, particularly that of Schreiter-Sandrock, the oldest in our area. I’m told, that she has lots of new images to share, too.

The Country Hills branch is attached to St. Mary’s High School  (see map). The library is on the end of the complex closest to Homer Watson. There’s lots of free parking and no registration is required for the event.

Do you have a favourite Waterloo County funeral in your family history?

Cheers, Karen


2 thoughts on “Morbid Curiosities

  1. Michael Batty says:

    I too am a regular obituary reader and now of course at my age its to see who I have outlived but also of distant acquaintances or people of the community of whose name I recognize. I have had several friends spend their careers in the business and I always have found them to be fascinating and persons of with and humour.

    Local customs vary on funerals. I was surprised about 30 years ago when we went to Iowa for the funeral of our nephew to see all funerary coaches were white. Apparently this is not uncommon in southern US communities as well. At our cottage the local cemeteries have photos embedded under glass or plastic of the deceased and often times the picture is one taken in the coffin. That sure is a chilling aspect.

    Anyway Karen I just wanted you to know that you need not be alone in your daily readings, there are others among you..

    Best Regards and thanks for interesting blogs

    Mike Batty

  2. Hi Mike,
    Thanks for your comments and kind words. I love a good obituary – especially if it contains lots of family detail (for the genealogist in me) or has humour (reflecting the personality of the dearly departed). It’s also nice to know that I’m not alone in my reading.
    Cheers, Karen

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