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Cremated and unclaimed: N.S. funeral home seeks to return remains to families


A Nova Scotia funeral home has gone public with an unusual problem: unclaimed cremated remains.

Some of the ashes have been sitting for nearly half a century, and the funeral home owner says it's time they were laid to rest.

“It’s not right to have people here that should be with their families or buried in a family plot with their spouse, significant other, brother, sister parents - whatever the case may be,” Bruce Varner, owner and managing director of Mattatall-Varner Funeral Home in Truro, told CTV News.

Varner posted a list of unclaimed remains on the company website and Facebook page in early May and has been making contact with several families who’ve come to claim them.

Others remain in storage in the funeral home.

The list includes George Leadley who died in Winnipeg in December of 1980, and Zeruah Julia Truss, who died Sept. 4, 1975.

Truss's last known address was on Main Street in Bible Hill, N.S.

Industry insiders say the problem is more common than you might think.

“Unclaimed cremated remains are things like estranged family, indecision on what should happen with the cremated remains,” Patrick Curry, President of the Funeral Service Association of Nova Scotia said in an interview from Antigonish, N.S.

Curry also notes Nova Scotia legally considers cremation "final disposition", so there's technically no requirement to do anything more.

Varner says his company inherited the remains from others who went out of business or were swallowed up by other funeral operations.

Either way, he says there's a lesson for families.

"Keep in contact with the funeral home, with your most current, up-to-date contact information," Varner says.

The funeral home will keep looking for family members, but remains not claimed by Wednesday will likely be laid to rest in Bible Hill on July 8.

A final resting place for some, who've waited decades. Top Stories

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