The 1930’s had been exceedingly difficult years for families. Having just come out of a World War, survive the Spanish Flu Pandemic, and talk of unrest in Europe again, life was hard for people to not only live, but to bury a loved one who died. According to one long-time member of Kindersley, Mrs. Fay Campbell (nee Swalm) told of how an undertaker of the time refused to pick up her father’s body unless they paid him $400.00 upfront (that is near $9000.00 in today’s dollars). A kind lawyer fronted the money so they could proceed with their loved one’s burial.
During that same time, Mr. J. Buckingham and Mr. Ben Stocks heard stories (such as the one by Mrs. Campbell) from others and decided to take the lead with talking to various groups in the area trying to put together some kind of solution to this problem. So, on March 31, 1933, this group of men held a meeting in the Orange Hall (now known as the Kindersley Legion Hall) with fifty-six people showing up to see what they had to say. Following a general discussion and with a unanimous decision made, the “Kindersley Community Burial Association” began. A group of five men from the meeting agreed to form a Pro-Tem Committee, thereby creating the first board. These men who stepped up to undertake this commitment were, Mr. W. Fergusson, Mr. R.D. Grant, Mr. E. Longmire, Mr. Ben Stocks, and Mr. J. Buckingham. The group in attendance voted Mr. Longmire the position of Chair along with Mr. Buckingham senior acting as Secretary. From that same meeting, when the chair called for membership, nineteen men agreed to sign the roll and paid the original $5.00 membership fee, becoming charter members. One can see that some of those family names are still in Kindersley today, E.S. Whatley, E. Longmire, A.W. Domer, J.J. Adams, R. Ready, R.D. Graham, H.S. Lewis, B. Stocks, R.S. Bourne, O.P. Chandler, R. Simpson, M. Henery, P.L. Cameron, Hugh McConnell, J.R. Barden, G.A. Garland, Edwin Linfoot, and J. Buckingham.
The first order of business decided was the purchase of a hearse, which Carl Davidson & Hilliary Missere built for $160.00. The original cost of a standard funeral was $75.00, the undertaker received $25.00 per funeral, a casket cost $25.00, and membership fees were originally set at $5.00. Mr. Walter Hamilton was the first Apprenticing Undertaker and remained there until he moved to Ontario in 1937. At the first Annual Meeting, those present held a moment of silence for two men (Mr. E.S. Whatley and Mr. J.F. Gibbings) who were deeply involved in the creation of the Association but sadly passed away just as the business was getting off the ground. In 1934 the Association purchased their first motorized hearse from Prince Albert for $750.00, and in 1935 increased the full cost of a funeral to between $85.00 - $135.00. Finally in 1934 the Kindersley Community Burial Association became incorporated under the “Benevolent Societies Act” as a non-profit organization, which it remains as that today.
One issue that was from the beginning was working out of an appropriate location. The Association started off in the “Old Telephone Building,” which by looking at a rare photo appears to be the building that Three Way Radio uses and is located at the North end of Main Street. The Association continued to save money and in 1937 was finally able to move into a new 18 X 28-foot building which was originally a Chinese Laundry (on 2nd Ave E). The building cost $794.00 to build, which did not include the hours of voluntary labour and donated meals. The Merrington Ladies dressed up the space by making the drapes for the new building.
In 1937 when Mr. Hamilton moved away, Mr. Everton Fergusson trained to become an embalmer, and completed it in 1940 under the guidance of Saskatoon Funeral Home. He worked in this position until he tragically suffered a fatal heart attack in 1948. His widow, Rena (later known to everyone as Rena Quickfall) who also took the embalmers training at the same time as her husband, became the new Embalmer and worked in that capacity over the next 12 years, retiring in 1960. She would come back a couple of times over the years to train new embalmers at the request of the board of directors.
In 1946 at the Annual General Meeting, it was decided to change the original name from the Kindersley Community Burial Association to Kindersley Community Funeral Home
Once again by 1950 the funeral home was feeling cramped in their space on 2nd Avenue, and so they began the search for a new facility, and in 1951 with financial assistance from Rena, Agnes Fyfe, Mr. W.A. Johnson, Bob Simpson, and Alf Dawson, the new funeral home was completed (by Mr. Jim McDougall) and staff moved into their third location. Today one may recognise it as an apartment building on the West corner of Main Street across from Hanger’s Drycleaners. During this period, the board was still able to keep the cost of a funeral to between $270.00 - $485.00, which was well below the provincial average, and by 1956 the funeral home became debt-free for the first time.
With time, the funeral home continued to grow and when some Eston citizens approached the board in 1969 to see if they were interested in opening a branch in Eston, the board approached the current owner there (Mr. Briggs) to inquire if he was interested in selling. After negotiations, the two groups could not reach a deal, but Kindersley went ahead with building their own place anyway. Eston-Snipe Lake Funeral Chapel opened their doors in 1970 and is still in use today. Kindersley Funeral Home quickly expanded into Kerrobert when the Kerrobert Funeral Parlor owner (Mr. Greer) wanted to retire and sold his business to the funeral home. The funeral home continued to operate out of that building until a new 2100 sq foot one replaced the original structure in 1980. Kindersley’s location was once again up for discussion due to the ever-changing needs of the business and the families it served, so in 1975 the fourth location opened to the public with six early original board members there to help celebrate the grand opening. The 3rd Avenue West location had to see the demolition of an historic R.C.M.P. building though to build the new place.
Trouble came twice to the funeral home regarding privatizing or selling opportunity for the business. In 1973 the then manager (Mr. Earl Joice) wanted to buy and privatize the business. After meetings and discussions amongst the board, they decided not to sell to Mr. Joice who then in turn resigned taking two other staff members but come May of 1978 the funeral home found itself approached by Mr. Joice to buy his private funeral home after becoming sick. Following negotiations on price and terms, Mr. Joice accepted the offer. A second offer to purchase happened in 1983 when the manager of the time (Mr. Glen Standen) approached the board with an offer. Once again after meetings and discussions amongst the current board and this time including a special meeting of the whole membership, it was decided to remain as a non-profit business and not sell. This also caused Mr. Standen to leave.
As time continued to move on, Kindersley, Kerrobert, and Eston Funeral Homes continued to grow both in size and staff. From the addition of funeral directors, embalmers, secretaries/ office managers, and staff, to now include cremation technicians. The ringing in of a new millennium saw the discussion of needing more space again. Initially the funeral home bought the empty lot next to the 3rd Ave building to expand the current building, but with the increase in cremation requests coming from families, the board had to consider creating the first crematorium for the area served. The board was concerned with the public esthetics of a crematorium in the middle of town, so the board decided to look for new land once more. The manager at the time (Mr. Tom Geiger) created a Long-range business plan to start the process of a new build. Planning and saving continued through 2008, and in 2009 Kindersley Funeral Home bought two lots of land in the West Industrial area of Kindersley and designing started with CAD Vantage from Saskatoon. Groundbreaking happened in the spring of 2011 and the business moved in by July of 2012.
From humble beginnings in 1933 which saw “the few” work tirelessly to make things better for “the many” during their time of need right up to today where the current staff and board continue to strive to meet the needs of the families we serve, there have been only eight managers who oversaw and helped guide (along with a dedicated board) the business as it continued to evolve. This would speak to a commitment that each person felt, and a singular consistent goal held by all which continues today; “How can we best help serve the public?