Local author and historian Marion Roes has been featured in a docu-series from Waterloo Region to highlight her work telling the history of the funeral business in the region.
The series is Waterloo Region’s contribution to Doors Open Ontario, an event to celebrate heritage and architecture across the province. This year, the event is once again completely digital, as was the case over the last two years due to the pandemic.
To participate, the region staff have created a series of videos, about ten minutes each, that feature a less well-known story about the region. This includes the story about Roes, who was part of the Dreisinger Funeral Home legacy in Elmira.
“When I was interviewing the undertakers and realizing that their stories aren’t usually told, and people often say they don’t like going to a funeral home, which is understandable, and yet, the funeral directors are involved with every person in a community and so they’re important to the community,” said Roes in the video.
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Roes began writing the book, “Death as Life’s Work,” about the history of the funeral business in the region from about 1850 until 2020 while she was working on another research project in 2014.
Originally she was looking for more information about the local funeral business as background information about her great-grandfather’s funeral home business, Dreisinger Funeral Home. She received so much information from local historians that she had enough to write an entire book on the subject.
Roe is interested in the funeral business because her family on her mother’s side owned and operated the funeral home in Elmira from 1904 until 2009. Her sister is still a funeral director today.
The episode featuring Roes was released this weekend and can be found on the Region of Waterloo’s website, www.regionofwaterloo.ca
Other episodes include lesser-told stories about the region, including:
- The tales of two Nessie-like creatures that surfaced in Waterloo Region’s rivers 100 years apart. Sightings of the infamous ‘Nithy’ of the Nith River were reported in newspapers throughout Ontario in the 1950s. The lesser-known Doon Monster of the Grand River bubbled up a century before. Both of these river monsters generated a groundswell of interest that united and divided neighbours in a wave of debate about con vs. phenomenon.
- A look at the finest Cambridge architecture and its back-story through the lens of local photographer Michael Johnston;
- The Top 10 gems of The Grace Schmidt Room of Local History at the Kitchener Public Library’
- An analog revival of the typewriter with Currie Russell, whose pandemic passion project has evolved into a thriving side-hustle for the Waterloo collector;
- A behind-the-scenes tour of the Canadian Clay & Glass Gallery vault;
- A chat with Clarence Cachagee at Crow Shield Lodge, a place for reconciliation, Indigenous land-based teaching and healing;
- The innovative history of Historic Blair Sheave Tower, Ontario’s last remaining wooden water-powered hydro generator tower. Built in 1876, it was a remarkable feat of engineering which harnessed waterpower, via pulley and cable, for the nearby gristmill. It was one of the world’s smallest hydro generating projects.
- The heritage of Galt Arena Gardens, which turned 100 this year and remains the oldest continuously operating arena in the world.