"Ex-undertaker says he exhumed artist’s body", Regina Leader-Post, Oct. 12, 1956


F.W. Churchill, 73-year-old former undertaker, says he exhumed the body of artist Tom Thomson from a rough Algonquin Park grave and sent it to Owen Sound, Ont., for reburial in 1917. […]

He said today in an interview: “Mr. Thomson’s relatives and friends were not happy with the burial spot, Miss Blodwen Davies, a friend, wanted him buried at Leith. She phoned the undertaker in Kearney, who had been in charge of the funeral near Canoed Lake, but he refused to exhume the body.

(Miss Davies is now acting executive secretary of the Saskatchewan arts board.)

“Then she phoned me in Huntsville. I was not anxious to do the job, but she begged me and finally I said yes.

“By that time the body had lain in the water for 10 days and been buried seven days, Mark Robinson, the park ranger, gave me four men to help me with the job.

“We opened the grave and took the coffin and the rough-box out of the grave. The body was badly decomposed but still recognizable as Tom Thomson. I transferred the remains into a metal box which I could seal. The empty coffin and rough box were put back into the grave and the grave was filled again.

“We placed the metal box with the body in a coffin and shipped it to Owen Sound, as Miss Davies had requested. One of Mr. Thomson’s brothers accompanied the coffin on the train to Owen Sound.

“There my instructions ended, but I heard that the undertaker from Owen Sound saw to the burial of the coffin in the cemetery at Leith.”

Source: Ex-Undertaker Says He Exhumed Tom Thomson’s Body, Regina Leader-Post, October 12, 1956

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