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Le Courant

Automne 2017 | 19

Coaticook Funeral Cooperative


Coopérative funéraire

                                                             Funeral Cooperative

In 2016, the Coaticook Funeral Cooperative will celebrate their 40th anniversary. Forty years of business brought with it those decisions and actions necessary to be the quality of a business for which we are known today. The Coaticook Funeral Cooperative has shown throughout the years that their continued focus and growing vision went towards achieving what they has first planned to do. The beginnings of the Coaticook Funeral Cooperative came from the shared ideas of Antonio Tremblay and Fernand Jubinville. Was there an interest for this type of funeral parlor in the region of Coaticook? This questioning of the idea was at the heart of the matter right up to the time that the business began. It is important to note that the founders, in 1975, had the courage and the belief that this project would succeed. The first meeting of the organisation took place in 1976 in the basement of St. Jean Church. The purpose of the first meeting was to know whether or not the public would like to have a cooperative funeral parlor in this town. It was decided at this meeting that the need for a cooperative funeral parlor was certainly welcome. There was great interest at this meeting so the decision was made to put together an organisation.

fondateurs coop funéraire

The first Board of Directors consisted of the following persons:

Fernand Jubinville President, Georges E. Rivard, Vice President, Real Tremblay, Secretary

Antonio Tremblay, Treasurer, Therese Peloquin, Director, Romeo Riendeau, Director

Leandre Quirion, Director.

The last person of the list, Leandre Quirion, became the first funeral director.

In order to establish this organisation, several actions would have to be undertaken. The business would have to have a definition, in other words, what would be the goals and purpose of this organisation? The members would have to be aware of what services were available. Regular business hours would have to be held, minutes taken, a banking system set up, a logo needed to be designed, and publicity promoting the project would have to take place. The request for the creation of the organisation was quickly drawn up according to government stipulations in order to obtain a charter and set up financial accounts. Soon, member cards became the norm and fund raisers enabled the organisation to see to the necessary purchases of getting the organisation set up along with anything else necessary to get the organisation ready to open.

Difficulties arose when considering the purchase of certain houses. Bad luck came in many ways. After some time of in depth searching, a house was chosen for the reason of location and the grandeur of the building. The house belonging to Real Langevin was chosen after a difficult process. The purchase of the house of course required the granting of a loan from a financial institution. This loan amounted to nearly $100,000. Following a search of financial information from local banks, it was decided to work with the Caisse Desjardins, Compton who granted the loan. The house was bought along with other necessities. It was then necessary to see to the signage which would be representative of the Coaticook Funeral Cooperative. Fernand Jubinville was assigned the task of having this drawn up. Different aspects were taken into consideration such as a cross representing faith, a rising sun denoting hope and a crown representing victory. The official opening of the funeral parlor was held on February 13, 1977.

coopérative funéraire départ

                                                        First Funeral Cooperative

After the initial work to organise the Coaticook Funeral Cooperative was made on paper, the actual operations began in 1978. The business grew so quickly that it soon became apparent that space was becoming an issue. The space became restricted. There were numerous families so the question of enlargement and renovation were being discussed. The space was just too small and better circulation between the salons was needed. There needed to be increased spacing for arriving mourners. It was therefore decided to build an addition. This extension allowed for a better set up of the salon and improved and adequate parking. Another important issue was raised concerning the repair of the garage and how it would be used.

It has always been understood that the coffins came from the Federation de Sherbrooke. The purchase of the coffins were made in Victoriaville according to certain specifications. Thanks to the help of the Federation de Sherbrooke delivery of the coffins were made directly to Coaticook. This change made for better management and less time in services rendered.

In 1990, Jean-Marie Couture was hired as the first Director General. He was considered to be an asset for the business.

In 1992, the fifteenth anniversary of Coaticook Funeral Cooperative took place. Many of our goals had been accomplished including a more spacious entry to the building. A new publicity flyer was produced on this occasion to highlight new services now being offered. The purchase of a new hearse was to be made this year. This is not to be considered a frivolous purchase as the current hearse, a Pontiac, dates from 1957. The personnel will occasionally wear a uniform for funerals.

In 2001, the 25th anniversary of the business took place. Throughout the years much work went into the recruitment of new members to increase the client base. At his time, 1880 persons were listed as members. It should be noted that there has been a steady increase in membership which proves to us that working hard to find and recruit new members has continued throughout the years.

In 2002, the Coaticook Funeral Cooperative added new services. One such program aimed to help families cope with loss of a child. The ''Solidarity Plan'' is a service offered by the Coaticook Funeral Cooperative which is available to members in which a large part of funeral costs will be taken care of by the Cooperative. Support services would be available to family in mourning over a child aged fourteen years or less. It is a known fact that the loss of a child leaves lifelong effects to the family. Events such as this have been known to leave a family in such a state of loss resulting in discouragement and disruption in one's life. These difficult moments may lead to unmanageable mourning which could immensely be benefitted through use of our support services. This is just another service to meet a large need.

In 2004, the vehicles belonging to the Coaticook Funeral Cooperative were updated. Cremation urns were a service added this same year. The new video projection system was being set up. The year also saw another service called ''The Crossing''. This new service is to help people through the grieving process. It serves as a guide to bereavement and how to cope with the changes. This service is to be offered free of charge to any persons without restriction in order to give the necessary support.

In 2007, the Coaticook Funeral Cooperative saw their 30th year in business. This year also highlighted the organisation of the Provincial Congress of the Federation of the Funeral Cooperatives of Quebec. It is quite an event to attend and to see what they have to offer. This year coinsides with reorganisation of the two funeral parlors. It is no small task to see these spaces redesigned but it is done with aim of improving existing space tastefully and to better serve the customer. The Coaticook Funeral Cooperative currently has 2000 members.

In 2008, further projects were launched to improve services. There does not seem to be any lack of ideas for projects and plans are put forward. Services offered are always first-rate and any changes which might affect conditions of daily living are carefully considered. In addition to the religious point of view, new ways of mourning and bereavement as well as to different steps connected with burial are to be considered.

In 2010, embalming methods were the topic of discussion and improvement foreseen in this area. One important factor was the location of the embalming procedure. The embalming process took place in Sherbrooke and the transport involved along with delays incurred probably caused certain difficulties. Certain comments were received that the embalmed bodies did not really resemble the loved one. It was therefore decided to have an on-site laboratory here. This laboratory would be ultra-modern and a qualified professional funeral director would be hired. Such a job requires a great deal of professionalism and skills as well as a good sense of empathy and respect. Mrs. Sonia Paquette would become the funeral director to be appointed. Here professionalism and the skill of embalming which took place were appreciated.

In 2012, the subject of parking came into play as it had been an inadequate area from the beginning. Rental expenses were charged each year. The parking was insufficient compared to the parking size of the funeral cooperative to the parking lot of the IGA store located just across the street. This fact, even though it brought about increased costs, did become an improvement in service and better able to receive vehicles. At about this time, the restaurant called ''The Sardauve''located just beside the Coaticook Funeral Cooperative announced that it soon would be closing. This restaurant had its own parking lot beside the parking lot of the Coaticook Funeral Cooperative. The potential of buying this property next to our parking lot became an interesting possibility. This was a well appreciated fact but there was yet the issue of negotiating reasonable terms for the purchase. An agreement to purchase a sufficient amount of land would cost $50,000. This would be a good purchase allowing parking nearby on land owned by the funeral parlor. This purchase would be a benefit to the number of customers who could take advantage of closer parking to the Cooperative.

The year 2012 will also be the year of rebuilding the garage. Repairs had not been done on the garage for several years and significant repairs were now in order. The rules and regulations of construction had seen many changes over the years and since this garage was an important part of the Coaticook Funeral Cooperative their were many modifications to be done. One of the important factors in rebuilding the garage was taking into consideration the heritage character of the building. The age of the building and its architectural value emphasize point of view of that heritage. The renovations as well as the construction work done on the building would have to be done according to the construction codes and come up with results which would cover the heritage requirements. It is obvious that in the end the building will be one of style and pleasant to look at.

In 2015, this year was considered an important year for business. This year would witness valuable transactions which would be of considerable merit. Important investments were made to enable the Coaticook Funeral Cooperative to expand their services. The funeral parlors belonging to Cass in Ayer's Cliff as well as the funeral parlor in Stanstead came up for sale. For many years these funeral parlors had offered funeral services and had served the Municipalities of Ayer's Cliff and Stanstead very well. The purchase and operating of these two funeral parlors allows for an increased number of potential customers and improvement (or better) coverage throughout the area. An expansion of English-speaking customers was also noted along with the purchase of the two funeral parlors. The cost of purchasing the two funeral parlors was affordable.

In 2016 the year of the 40th anniversary will be a year of retrospective and festive. Such a birthday has to be mentioned and reveals the need for such an establishment in the region. This anniversary also proves the effectiveness of the Coaticook funeral cooperative in terms of the services offered and the good stewardship of the facility. The number of members is maintenantmaintenant in 2016 of 2250 members representing 20% of the population. There have been 1897 funeral celebrations since the beginning of the operations of the Coaticook funeral cooperative. The Board of directors demonstrates fairness being made up of an equal number of board members both on the male side and on the female side. Another performance is realized.
We are now looking at important points that have been incurred over the years and demonstrating the research and the addition of services offered for the purpose of improving customer satisfaction. Emphasis must be placed on an important element of service offered by the funeral co-operative, namely the "Crossing" service. This service provides support to people who are grieving. These people meet for ten weeks on a weekly basis in order to receive and exchange on the situation experienced. This is an important element of assistance and assistance for bereaved people. It creates a decisive support for this support group. The person in charge of this self-help group is Ms. Jacinthe, a psychologist and specialist in the field. Through her approach, she brings comfort and understanding. The addition of the ' Crossing ' service demonstrates its efficiency by its ever-growing demand. In addition the customer service of the Coaticook Funeral cooperative is excellent and enjoyable and this service is accessible six days a week. Qualified people can accompany you in different questions.

accueil coopérative funéraire

                                                   Funeral Cooperative of Coaticook

A second very important element is the realization and implementation of a laboratory on-site in Coaticook. It is in 2010 that we will see at the creation of the laboratory. Coming up to date the tasks for embalming deceased persons were carried out in Sherbrooke and Thedford Mines. A problem appeared to be the distance that had to be travelled. This service is now available at Coaticook itself and is done flawlessly. The hiring of a qualified director will thus make these laboratory services highly effective. The Director is Mrs. Sonia Paquette, 32 years old and mother of the family. She loves her job and is careful to do a job that gives justice to the person she performs the embalming and therefore is very much appreciated by the families and acquaintances of the deceased person.

Another important element is the addition of the Cass funeral parlors of Ayer Cliff and Stansted, which now belong to the Coaticook funeral cooperative. This acquisition clearly demonstrates the efforts made to serve more and more people and to expand the territory offering the services of the funeral cooperative. This addition allows better competition in the market and better visibility.
Coaticook's Funeral Co-op is proud of the journey that has been accomplished and longs for the wonderful work that it does every day. It recognizes the contribution it gives to the region and is proud of its contributions through the services it offers to the population. It is important to underline the financial implication of the members in the progression of their co-op. We also note the important contribution of the thousands of hours of volunteer work of different members, which is an invaluable value. Coaticook's funeral cooperative is at the heart of our region for the good of all.

Source Pierre Carbonneau, Michel Belzile.

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