Innovation in Cremation

MPG Post Articles :: Innovation in Cremation
May 16, 2022
Environment Funerals & Memorials Innovation & Technology

For decades, cremation was separate from the funeral experience. The funeral would end and then the cremation would take place elsewhere, often in a dark industrial facility, far removed from family and friends. Days or weeks after the funeral, cremated remains would be buried or scattered.

This old approach and the old equipment that was used for cremations, no longer meet the expectations of those who choose cremation.

The witnessing area in Thornton's Cremation Centre
The witnessing area in Thornton’s Cremation Centre

There were two trends driving the need for innovation in this area. First, many friends and family strongly prefer to be present for a loved one’s cremation. And for many, it’s more than a preference. Hindu, Sikh and Jain believers all have religious practices that are rooted in cremation and for them it is important to be present for the process. But old cremation facilities were not built with this in mind. They are industrial-looking and cannot safely accommodate people for a witnessing ceremony. A second important trend relates to environmental concerns. While all of Mount Pleasant’s legacy cremation equipment met Health Canada standards for emissions, we knew that more modern equipment could further reduce those emissions, in some cases nearly to zero.

The Mount Pleasant Group has been aware of these trends for some time. We have seen the popularity of cremation continue to grow; a trend which we do not expect to slow down. And we have also seen the ways in which our immigrant population has changed over time, now leaning heavily toward new Canadians from Asian countries with traditions that favour cremation and witnessing.

In response to these trends, the Mount Pleasant Group, decided to replace our existing cremation equipment to lessen its environmental impact and to transform the witnessing process. We began by scouring the globe to find the best equipment possible. After a lengthy process of due diligence and regulatory approvals in Canada, an entirely new cremation experience was made available at Mount Pleasant Cemetery and Elgin Mills in 2014. In 2017, we completed the process with the conversion of the cremation equipment at Meadowvale and Thornton Cemeteries.

Witnessing the cremation of a loved one at Elgin Mills Cremation Centre
Witnessing the cremation of a loved one

MPG’s new witnessing rooms are bright, spacious, comfortable rooms that can accommodate large groups. The state-of-the art cremation technology allows family members to safely and comfortably witness and even take part in seeing the casket enter the cremation chamber. Witnessing is a way for people to participate in the last part of their loved one’s journey, not unlike watching a casket being lowered into the grave.

From an environmental perspective, the new equipment is the cleanest in North America with particulate matter and other emissions thousands of times lower than Ministry of the Environment safe health standards. For all intents and purposes, emissions and particulate matter have been reduced nearly to zero.

The process of transforming the cremation experience for our customers took well over a decade from start to finish. This investment of time and resources was part of our ongoing commitment not only to meet, but also to anticipate our customers’ needs. But even more than that, it was just the right thing to do.