Embalming 1891 – A Local Report





Ocotber 23 1891 Almonte Gazette– a shocking report


One of our inquisitive reporters having seen a dead body exposed at one of our local furniture stores has some serious questions for a local undertaker. After seeing the body embalmed showing face and body as perfect as life he asked the undertaker how the arrest of decay was accomplished. A warning to our subscribers that this article is of a sensitive nature.

The undertaker:“The fluids with which we fill the veins and arteries of the body are made up of the rankest poison on earth. There is poison enough in that body to kill the entire population of this town. But that is what protects the body and arrests decay, and, I might say, it robs death of many of its terrors”.




How long will a body remain intact under this process?” “Oh, I don’t know. I have exhumed bodies that had been buried for a long time. I never saw one that showed the slightest evidence of decay. There is no telling how long they will be preserved, but it is generally conceded that if properly embalmed the time of their preservation is unlimited.

“What about the recent publications and discussions in regard to the growth of hair on a dead body?” “Why, the hair continues to grow after death. I remember a man who died many years ago. He was from Drummond, and his wife first wanted to send the body to Ottawa for burial, but changed her mind, and had the remains interred in a lot belonging to a neighbour. It was six years afterwards when the neighbour decided to sell the lot and requested that the body be exhumed”.



Photo from Public Archives


I was called upon to do the work, and there were a number of persons, including the dead man’s wife, who were present.” “ Did the body look natural?” “Well, I was going to tell you that it was a young man, with a light moustache, cleanly shaven, with that exception when I buried him. Imagine my surprise when I lifted the coffin lid and saw the form of a man with a full beard curling over his breast and reaching nearly to his waist. He had a scarf pin in his shirt bosom when he was buried, a rather cheap affair, but the stone glittered like a diamond of the first water amid the luxuriant beard”.

“Otherwise he was not changed, but looked perfectly natural. You see, hair is something’ like a fungus growth. The follicles are fed by the flesh and not by the blood. That is why the hair and beard -so frequently grow after death. Where a body that was not embalmed is exhumed after it has been several years  buried, a fine network of a filmy substance is found around the skeleton. This is one of nature’s protectors, and preserves from decay the bones of a human being. An embalmed body is something like a mummy”.


Ed Fleming — The First Funeral Parlour in Carleton Place

A Tale From the Patterson Funeral Home — Carleton Place

Dead Ringers –To Live and Die in Morbid Times

Does Photography Remove Your Soul?

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News and now in The Townships Sun

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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