Introducing the Funeral Co-operative of Ottawa

Gwynneth Evans

Alexandra Wilson and I met at Working Title to discuss a topic close to our hearts and experience: death and the celebration of a loved one’s life. We have both lived in Sandy Hill for decades and admire how the complex at Chapel and Laurier East is playing its part in the evolution of our beloved community. Our conversation turned to the Funeral Co-operative of Ottawa (FCO), where Alexandra has served on the Board since 2015.

Operating in French and English, FCO was founded to meet the needs of family or friends when someone in the community dies. It attends to the disposition of the body and assists with arranging the services that allow the family to celebrate their loved one’s life. FCO provides these services on a not-for-profit basis to members and non-members alike. A one-time fee of $35.00 allows members to receive a discount for services, arranged either in advance or at the time of death.

Services offered include cremation, aquamation, donation of the body to science, a simplified burial in the ground or traditional burial from a synagogue, mosque, temple, shrine or church. The staff coordinates and delivers services based on conversation with the family.

FCO aims to meet the family’s needs at a fair price, without pressure to purchase unwanted goods or services. The facilities and options available are varied to accommodate and support those for whom this time of grieving and visitation is so important. It is easier, if these details have been worked out in response to a will and the stated desires of the deceased.

Alexandra found herself unexpectedly turning to FCO following the accidental death of her 26-year-old son in 2019. She describes the service she received as compassionate, attentive and sensitive. With the help of friends, she arranged a wonderful time of consolation and community at Working Title for her and her family. Impressed with the allsaints event space, FCO now includes it as an option for a celebration of life when a larger facility is needed than the co-op’s own memorial space on St. Laurent Boulevard.

Alexandra told me that she recently attended a funeral in Victoriaville. Unlike many Quebec towns and cities, Victoriaville does not have a funeral co-op. The funeral home held eight events that day, which led to an impression of rush. By contrast, FCO’s space is personal and intimate.

Canada has experienced great changes over the decades and we know how much more multicultural and secular our population is. The Funeral Co-op of Ottawa is able to meet the requests of all families. It recognizes that those left behind want both to fulfil the wishes of the deceased and to honour and comfort those who mourn in a manner respecting the norms of their community.

Of the co-op’s 2,400 members, 128 live in Sandy Hill and Lowertown. FCO has served 64 families in these neighbourhoods. To join or learn more, visit the FCO website at

Sandy Hill resident Alexandra Wilson is a board member of the Funeral Co-operative of Ottawa, that provides celebration of life services at allsaints event space.
Photo: Christine Aubry