Ed Fleming — The First Funeral Parlour in Carleton Place

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Ed Fleming was more than a qualified mortician, and he thought all it would take to open a funeral parlour in Carleton Place was a hop, skip, and maybe a coffin or two. How hard could it be he asked himself? The man from Ashton knew just about everyone in town, and had a few degrees under his belt from Ottawa and Hamilton.  But in typical small town fashion some things never change. Word flew up and down the streets that a funeral parlour might dare open. The horrors! The general synopsis was: what did Carleton Place need a funeral parlour for?

Next thing he knew, a group of concerned citizens began a petition to stop the young mans dreams of opening his business in town. However, the powers to be finally gave Fleming the green light. In all honesty, there just wasn’t enough people complaining to warrant not allowing him to open his business. In June of 1939 Carleton Place’s first funeral parlour opened and the world didn’t end. At least there wasn’t anything in the newspapers about it, and the world was here when I woke up this morning.

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You have to remember there were other undertakers in town like Patterson and Matthews, and everyone had family funerals in their homes in those days. Back in the days when funerals were held at home, the only outside help which a family needed was in supplying the coffin. Since it was made of wood, it was bought at the store that also sold wooden furniture. Some people even built their own coffins, if they had the time and talent. When the family home was not acceptable, Matthews Furniture store just moved everything over and ushered everyone into an open space between the couches and the end tables.

As funerals became more elaborate, the people who ran the furniture stores branched out, to supply a hearse or the other accouterments of Victorian mourning. Fleming had a horse drawn carriage until he purchased his first vehicle. Although undertakers’ records from the last century do exist, they are rare. We begin to hear more about them in the years before World War I, and by the 1920s they became common

Eventually the modern funeral home as we know it evolved and known as a mortuary or an undertaker’s, names which modern practitioners don’t like. Ed Fleming knew all along he could do a better job than the undertakers in town and he and his wife Doris succeeded with their first funeral parlour in their home on Frank Street.

I can’t imagine how his wife Doris got the family meals prepared knowing full well the body preparation room was next to the kitchen. That year they only had three funerals, and Doris pinch hit as a nurse at the Carleton Place Hospital to make ends meet,  But, as his good reputation spread, people knew they could count on him, and his business began to flourish.

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Fleming Brothers’ Funeral Home eventually moved to 18 Lake Avenue West where Tubman’s once was. Everything that has a beginning eventually has a an end. When Fleming decided to retire, he struck a deal with John Kerry who operated in Almonte at the old Stafford house and they closed the Carleton Place deal in 1972. Today, the Tubman Funeral home on lake Ave. West is closed, and the only remaining funeral parlour is the Alan Barker funeral home on McArthur Street.

Don’t forget Haunted Heritage Thursday night at the museum!

Our Haunted Heritage Event Page- buy tickets soon! October 15th

hauntedheritage

St James Cemtery Ghost Walk Event Page- October 28th

Howls in the Night in Carleton Place — Our Haunted Heritage

The Devil You Say in Carleton Place? Our Haunted Heritage

Outside Looking in at The Eccentric Family of Henry Stafford — Our Haunted Heritage

The Funeral Train That Went Through Carleton Place — Our Haunted Heritage

Stairway to Heaven in a Cemetery? Our Haunted Heritage

Old Wives Tales of Death — Our Haunted Heritage

Funerals With Dignity in Carleton Place – Just a Surrey with a Fringe on Top —- Our Haunted Heritage

Death by Corset? Bring Out Your Dead and Other Notions! Our Haunted Heritage

Things You Just Don’t say at a Funeral— Even if you Are a Professional Mourner

The Non Kosher Grave — Our Haunted Heritage

Linda’s Dreadful Dark Tales – When Irish Eyes Aren’t Smiling — Our Haunted Heritage

 Could the Giant Pike of Carleton Place Have Turned Into the Lake Memphremagog Monster?

Carleton Place Was Once Featured in Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Our Haunted Heritage

Young Hearts Run Free — Warning– Story Could be Upsetting to Some

Twitching or Grave Dousing– Our Haunted Heritage

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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