St. James Anglican Church in the diocese of Ottawa has opened the first scattering garden for cremated ashes in Eastern Ontario.
The garden was dedicated June 12 during the church’s annual cemetery service in the Carp village community in west Ottawa. Located at the back of the church’s tree-shaded heritage cemetery behind St. James, the garden is open to people of all denominations.
Common in Europe, scattering gardens for cremated remains have only recently been offered in Ontario. They are more affordable than traditional burials and are environmentally friendly. “Ashes will enable the plants that are here to grow,” said the Rev. Monique Stone, rector of St. James, in an Anglican Journal interview. “Its certainly not detrimental. It’s beneficial to the growth and transformation of the plants that are here.”
Stone came up with the idea of opening a scattering garden on the church’s consecrated land three years ago after doing some research. “I’ve always been interested in the environmental impact of cemeteries and burial, and thinking about how we need to look at different ways to take space for burial in sacred spaces,” she said. Before becoming a priest, Stone worked as a public engagement and organizational change specialist in the areas of environmental and social sustainability at the municipal, provincial and federal levels of government.
But the congregation of St. James, one of the churches of the Parish of Huntley, soon realized the project was bigger than imagined. “Thankfully, we had a family that was willing to dedicate some memorial funds to do it properly,” said Stone. The donors, Kenneth and Roma Lett, offered the garden “to the glory of God,” as engraved on the base of the memorial stone wall erected at the site. Those who choose the option may have the names of their loved ones in the garden also engraved on the memorial wall.
“Most people, I think, will have the name of the deceased and the date of birth and the date of death engraved on a communal memorial stone and when that stone is full we’ll add another stone to the garden,” said Stone.
Those wishing to have an outdoor service at the site can be accommodated. “We can bring chairs out here, we can have a standing service, and that’s why we have a little altar that we can use for an outdoor service.”
The cost for use of the scattering garden is not as much as having a regular grave, said Stone. “The cemetery burial costs are incredible,” she added. Stone also said there has been no opposition from funeral homes because most of the work they perform is completed by the time the remains are turned over to the cemetery for burial. The funeral home used by the church has been “very supportive,” she said.
Stone also said people have already shown interest in the scattering garden, including two people, both Anglicans, who were not able to return to Europe to bury the ashes of their loved ones. “They’ve never been part of our church at all and they came and said, ‘Wow could we be part of this community and bury the ashes of our loved ones here?'” said Stone.
Among those present at the dedication service were relatives of Kenneth and Roma Lett including nephews Mark and Murray Bowes and their spouses, Sandy (Mark) and Sheila (Murray).
For further information visit huntleyparish.com or email [email protected].