Planning Ash Scattering & Ash Scattering Ceremony Ideas
For Ontario families who have chosen cremation for a loved one, the next decision involves what to do, after the service, with the remains. Some families may choose to keep the cremated remains in their home, have them placed in a columbarium niche at the local cemetery or elect to have ash scattering services.
Planning an Ash Scattering In Ontario
Cremation provides families with more time to arrange where and how to scatter the ashes of their deceased loved one. In Ontario, the rules and regulations with regards to the handling of cremated remains stipulate the following. When dealing with the remains of a deceased loved one, you may:
- Buy rights to bury or scatter the cremated remains in a registered cemetery.
- Buy rights to place the cremated remains in a niche within a columbarium in a registered cemetery. (A columbarium is an aboveground structure that contains a number of niches. Placing the cremated remains in a niche is an interment, meaning a burial).
- Scatter cremated remains on private property with the consent of the land owner (if a land owner wants to allow repeated scatterings to take place on a specific piece of his or her property, he or she must establish that land as a cemetery and have a licensed cemetery operator for the cemetery).
- Sign a contract with the licensed operator of a cemetery, crematorium, funeral home or transfer service to scatter the cremated remains on your behalf.
- Scatter cremated remains on Crown land, including land covered by water, if it’s unoccupied (e.g., provincial park, conservation reserve, Great Lakes) and there are no signs or postings that prohibit scattering.
- Scatter cremated remains on municipally-owned lands (contact the municipality to check if there are by-laws that prohibit scattering in certain areas such as municipal parks).
- Transport cremated remains out of Ontario.
Read more on ash scattering directly from the Ontario government here:
Ash Scattering Services and How to Scatter
It is important to remember when making preparations for cremated remains that only certain individuals have the legal authority to decide what will happen with the body of a deceased loved one. This list includes exclusively, an estate trustee, a spouse, adult child (over 18) or the parents of the deceased.
In addition, it is a common misconception that cremated remains resemble fine, dust-like, ashes. In reality, cremated remains look and behave like small-grained gravel. It is important to check the wind and imagine how the remains will react when scattered through air or onto a body of water.
You may want to look into alternate methods of scattering the remains, for example trenching (digging a small trench and place the remains within) or raking (placing the remains on a surface and using the rake to spread them around).
Ash Scattering Ceremony Ideas & Types of Ceremonies
The common image most of us have of scattering ashes is one of a casting ceremony where the ashes are tossed into the wind or sprinkled on the surface of a lake, river, or sea. Whether one person is responsible for the casting or it's a group effort, casting a loved one's ashes can present challenges. We advise you check the direction of the wind and always cast downwind to avoid having the ashes come back to coat your clothes, skin and hair.
A floating ceremony requires the purchase of a water-soluble urn, which will float for a few minutes before sinking below the surface to bio-degrade naturally.
A trenching ceremony involves digging a shallow trench into the soil, which is filled from the urn, and then raked over at the conclusion of the ceremony.
Many families – especially those who have planted a tree in remembrance of their loved one – choose a ringing ceremony. A trench can be cut into the soil or the ashes can be sprinkled directly on the ground around the tree or shrub.
A raking ceremony involves pouring the ashes on the ground and then raking them into the soil at the conclusion of the ceremony. This can be a very effortless way to scatter the ashes and is appropriate for scattering ceremonies held on privately-owned land.
A sky ceremony involves the use of a private airplane and does not usually involve family members.