Tag Archives: funeral parlour

The Last Man to Let you Down? Political Leanings at Local Funeral Homes?

The Last Man to Let you Down? Political Leanings at Local Funeral Homes?





Doug B. McCarten— Were you aware Linda Seccaspina that the two funeral homes in Carleton  Place had political leanings?? It was an unspoken practice, but all Conservatives were buried from the Kelly Funeral Home and all Liberals went to Alan Barker!! I guess there were either no NDP people in Carleton Place, or they were sent elsewhere?? It was also said that you could have a “Pig” running as the Conservative candidate and still win the race in Lanark County! HAHAHAHA! It was likely true at the time!

Ted Hurdis I would have thought it was the other way around ? Pretty sure the Conservatives went to Barkers.

Carol Ethridge Both my parents were die-hard Conservatives and both were buried from Barkers

Doug B. McCarten Ted Hurdis not on your life! My Mom and Dad would never have gone to Barkers otherwise being the good Liberals that they were!

Doug B. McCarten Carol Ethridge after Kelly’s was gone?

Carol Ethridge Doug B. McCarten – my father was in 1977 but I’m pretty sure my grandmother was at Barker’s and that would have been around 1967 or so.

Norma Ford Carol Ethridge both our Grandparents were buried from Barkers but the others were from Fleming’s. I think it had more to do with service although I am probably wrong.

Carol Ethridge Norma Ford my memory is shot….what was the name of the other funeral home on Lake Ave….I swear every wake I went to as a child was at Barker’s. Jimmy’s was the first I went to not at Barkers

Llew Lloyd I always thought it was the Anglicans who used Flemings.

Donna McFarlane-ED and Doris Fleming were neighbours of my parents when my parents lived on the corner of Frank and Lake Avenue. I always remember Mom talking about how compassionate both were after the funeral of my sister in 1940 at 2 months and my brother in 1944 at a year and a half. Ed also ran the ambulance.

Norma Ford– Agreed, Mr. & Mrs. Fleming were super nice people. I also remember your Grandfather Harold and his wife Cora. Harold was a super nice guy as well. Vaguely remember your Dad. Hughes store was a great little store, sold Melo (spelling ?) Roll ice cream, loved it.

Jayne Graham My dad grew up in the house across the street from the funeral home (Cam Hughes.. parents were Harold and Cora Hughes who had the Southend Food Market on the same street). My dad drove the hearse for a short period of time. Ed and Doris remained close family friends with Doris travelling to London for my wedding in 1989. . They were lovely people

Ann Stearns Rawson When I mentioned Barker’s to my parents a long time ago, they said NEVER, As they were staunch Conservatives, now I know why!

Norma Ford Carol Ethridge 1st Fleming’s, then Kerry’s. Kerry’s I believe was where Jim, Mom & Dad funerals were held.

authorsnote)For the first time I don’t think I have anything to add to this. I am gobsmacked. LOL


Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun andScreamin’ Mamas (USA)


The Woman Who Got the Dead End Sign Removed in Carleton Place

Ed Fleming — The First Funeral Parlour in Carleton Place

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

Blast From the Past–Remembering Alan Barker– July 4 1979


Embalming 1891 – A Local Report

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Walking With Ghosts — The Accidental Addiction


In 1895 Jacob Leslie built what is known as the Leslie Block on Bridge Street in Carleton Place, ON. to house his furniture and undertaking business. The ground floor was strictly a showroom for furniture, but samples of coffins were on the second floor with a preparation room at the back. The deceased were embalmed and made ready for presentation in the building and the funerals took place at private homes or inside the white frame house on Beckwith Street. In 1915, the business was run by W.H. Matthews, and was taken over later by Alan R. Barker.


Emma Myers had been a very young nurse on various Civil War battlefields, and after the war she emmigrated to Canada with what was left of her family. Emma had survived the hardships of war and had become addicted to morphine, as it was given as a pain killer to the officers. Almost all addictions at the turn of the century were accidental. People became involved with drugs they had no idea what they were taking and ignorant of the impact associated with them.

During the Civil War, President Lincoln requested the Army physicians to develop a method of embalming soldiers who had died so their bodies could be returned to their families. Dr. Thomas Holmes was notable for perfecting embalming during this time and Emma was chosen to work with him.

When preparing deceased soldiers, physicians first buried the soldier, then notified family, then disinterred and embalmed the soldier with a hand pump, and then shipped him home. It was soon discovered that relatives would pay well for the return of officers, so the procurement of officers’ bodies became an issue of conflict between the good doctors.

Most people would not know how to get access to this substance, let alone fully understand the embalming process. We know that embalming fluid is very popular among the dead; I am just having a hard time understanding why the living insist on smoking it– because that is what Emma was doing while she worked there. Smoking a cigarette with a touch of embalming fluid is similar to an egg exploding in a microwave and can cause a person to become extremely high for up to 3 days, depending on the amount smoked. Emma did not last long working in the Leslie Block building, as exactly 30 days after she began work, she fell into a coma on the second floor and died later that day.


For 10 years a used furniture shop in that same building was run by Joyce Murray and she sensed a lot of odd noises and motions. Murray often felt cold pockets of air on the second floor, and doors would slam shut for no reason. Many times some would complain of feeling uneasy and seeing shadows out of the corner of their eyes. Many a person would get “locked” in the bathroom on the 2nd. level so Murray decided to stop using it.  Murray’s dogs, who spent their days at the store, absolutely refused to go up the stairs. The furniture dealer’s son-in-law set up a surveillance camera  to monitor activity, and one day the camera showed a long-skirted figure quite prominently. When someone went up to check, there was no one there.

The entire back (east) side of the building suddenly collapsed in 1953 and an overpowering smell of formaldehyde wafted through the town. Buildings all along Beckwith Street were evacuated, including the Bell Telephone exchange at the corner of Albert Street – the only time in their history they stopped work! It seems that the embalming fluid had been slowly leaking down the back wall, eating away the mortar and stone, until the entire wall collapsed. Could it have been young Emma who was still  a ‘wet-user’  even in death? Was she still siphoning off the embalming fluid and forgetting to shut off the valve? After all, invincibility and forgetfulness are also common side effects of smoking the fluid — or was she just one overly happy phantom that was tub-thumping and no one was ever going to keep her down.

Dr. Watson: [as he watches Sherlock drinking Formaldehyde] You’re drinking embalming fluid?
Sherlock Holmes: [exhales] Yes. Care for a drop?
Dr. John Watson: You do seem…
Sherlock Holmes: Excited?
Dr. John Watson: Manic.
Sherlock Holmes: I am.
Dr. John Watson: Verging on…
Sherlock Holmes: Ecstatic?
Dr. John Watson: Psychotic. [Pauses] I should’ve brought you a sedative.

Photos-Linda Seccaspina– Colour photo- Murray Family


Emma Meyers would have been age 14 at the time of the Civil War and in her 50’s when she died.

Dr. Thomas Homes– The Embalming King

The back wall of the Leslie Block building did indeed fall down due to rotting walls from leaking embalming fluid.


Carleton Place fact–The Alan R. Barker Funeral Home is part of a Carleton Place and area tradition with roots dating back to 1875. In 1875 Jacob Leslie started a funeral business on Bridge Street beside the present day St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church. The Leslie business was continued by Jacob’s son George Leslie in 1892 until its sale to W.H. Matthews in 1919. 


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