It’s all about choice.
John Cunningham, a fully licensed funeral director for 28 years, believes families deserve choices regarding funeral arrangements, as much as at any other time of life. That’s why, 8 years ago, he opened Community Alternative Funeral & Cremation Services Ltd. on Hunter Street, just west of the bridge.
"I had worked at other funeral homes in the past and I could see that while there were a number of good funeral homes, there just wasn’t a lot of choice for families when it came to the cost of funeral services." said Cunningham, who owns the business with his wife, Heather, a local teacher.
"We are a full-service traditional funeral home that provides families with an alternative to the traditionally high cost of funeral services. Until we opened, there just wasn’t a lot of choice.”
2012 marks a new chapter in the local company with the opening of the Ashburnham Chapel. Community Alternative’s new, larger funeral home located at 840 Armour Road, just north of Parkhill. “Within 5 years of opening, we had become the leading funeral home in the Peterborough area with regard to number of families served. We knew there was a strong demand for larger visitation, chapel, reception, and parking facilities.” Said Cunningham, “Our new Ashburnham Chapel answers those demands while maintaining the high level of service and affordable cost we have come to be known for.”
Cunningham stresses that both funeral homes are locally owned and operated, not part of a multinational funeral conglomerate or a franchise. Caskets are manufactured locally and he supports and promotes many of the local businesses. The staff has grown to 4 full time and 4 part time positions, including Gary Stewart, former MPP and a licensed funeral director since 1960. Gary is available to meet with families on an at need or pre need basis.
Recent changes by the Ontario Government in the summer of 2012 now permit sales people with no training to become licensed and to arrange and sign funeral contracts. These sales people often work on a 100% commission basis. "No one on our staff is on commission, and while we do provide information and options, there are no sales pressures. We respect whatever decisions our families make." promises Cunningham.
Although born in Toronto, the Cunningham family has deep roots in the community. John’s ancestors settled in Peterborough County in 1831 and he attended Trent University. He said he worked for large, prestigious funeral homes in Toronto, but eight years ago he and his wife, who grew up in Peterborough, decided to move back with their three children. His family, beginning with his great-grandfather, has provided funeral services in Ontario for four generations.
The original Hunter Street Chapel is a boutique style funeral home that offers a full range of services in a quiet comfortable environment that accommodates up to 60 persons, Ashburnham Chapel is a completely new, modern building with two visitation rooms, chapel with seating for up to 300, spacious reception facilities and parking for 100 cars.
On its website, you will find a wealth of information covering many issues surrounding funeral services, a full price list of services and merchandise, and a directory of community businesses and organizations available to help families in their time of need.
Community Alternative Funeral and Cremation Services Ltd.
Hunter St. West Chapel - 83 Hunter St. W., 705-742-1875.
Ashburnham Chapel – 840 Armour Rd., 705-740-0444