Our mission is simple: The Canadian Funeral Director Magazine is a National funeral service magazine, devoted to providing coverage of the many meetings and events pertaining to the death care profession from across Canada.
James O'Hagan Sr.
Scott Hillier and wife Krista White
History of Canadian Funeral Director™ magazine.
It took a couple of very determined gentlemen to bring to life a magazine devoted to the funeral profession in Canada. In 1894 when the “Furniture Journal” was started, it incorporated a section called “Undertakers’ Gazette”. The “Undertakers’ Gazette” published news of the Undertakers Association of Ontario which had been formed in 1884. The editor of the journal was A.E. Uren. The publisher, Acton Publishing, Toronto, Ontario also published a separate journal in 1911 and 1912, called “Funeral Director and Embalmer” which also had A.E. Uren as editor. This was discontinued when the expense of publishing it became greater than the revenue earned.
Atlantic Canada. Where it all began. Another furniture magazine “The Canadian Furniture World” published funeral news, in their Funeral Directing Department, as space would allow. The editor of The Canadian Furniture World was James O’Hagan (Sr).
The “Funeral Director and Bulletin” published by the Maritime Funeral Directors’ Association was first published in 1903. Fenwick W. Wallace, a funeral director from Sussex, New Brunswick was the editor and driving force determined to make a success of the magazine. After a few years publication of the Bulletin was suspended. Fenwick again revived the magazine in 1911 and 1912 renaming it “Canadian Funeral Director”. This publication was ceased when it failed to get Canada-wide support. In 1920, Fenwick Wallace was again encouraged by the Maritimes Association to resume publication and did so as the “Canadian Funeral Director” publishing issues in 1920 and 1921. With his health failing, this great Canadian funeral service publishing pioneer’s efforts also ended. Fenwick Wallace died in 1927.
In 1923, shortly after Fenwick Wallace’s journal ceased publication, James O’Hagan persuaded The Commercial Press, publishers of several trade journals in Canada, to support a trade journal dedicated to the funeral profession in Canada. It was in March 1923 that the first issue of “Canadian Funeral Service” was published. With great enthusiasm and confidence James O’Hagan started virtually with nothing more than determination to succeed. The office was located at 51 Wellington Street West, Toronto, Ontario.
Support from the funeral profession was not forthcoming. By the end of 1924, Commercial Press gave up on the “Canadian Funeral Service”. Not to be denied, James O’Hagan convinced Wrigley Publishing to support the Canadian Funeral Service journal. The office was relocated to 110 Church Street, Toronto, Ontario. Unfortunately by October 1926, the revenue did not justify continuing publication and Wrigley Publishing severed ties with the magazine. James O’Hagan took over the struggling publication on his own. In May 1928 the office was moved to 121 Church Street and then to 45 Jarvis Street in March 1929.
O’Hagan worked extremely hard to keep his trade publication for funeral service alive. He became publisher and editor of the Canadian Funeral Service and was also named Secretary of the Canadian National Funeral Service Association. The Canadian Funeral Service journal was now to be the Official Organ of the Canadian National Funeral Service Association. O’Hagan became even more involved in funeral service when he was appointed Organizing Secretary of the Ontario Funeral Service Association. He travelled the country encouraging the formation of the various associations. Throughout Ontario he and Ontario Funeral Service Association officials met with funeral directors helping them establish their district associations. Through the 30’s and 40’s O’Hagan kept the magazine afloat. He moved the offices from Jarvis Street to 60 Front Street in November 1934. Without the tremendous effort of James O’Hagan there would not be any recorded history of Canadian funeral service during these trying times.
James O’Hagan died August 9, 1947 and was succeeded by his son James (Jim) O’Hagan Jr. Jim was a popular editor and was as involved with the associations as his father had been. He continued to publish the magazine until 1972 when he sold his interest to Newfield Publications, Willowdale, Ontario. Peter Perry was named Managing Editor. Peter Perry assumed ownership in May 1973 and changed the name of the magazine to the “Canadian Funeral Director”. The office was relocated to 1658 Victoria Park Avenue, Scarborough, Ontario.
Since its inception the magazine had been printed by letterpress. Copy was set on linotype machines which were invented in the late 1800’s and still in general use until the 1970’s. Peter’s first objective was to convert the printing to the more modern and efficient offset lithography method. He also began to set the copy with one of the earliest methods of phototypesetting equipment. He worked with a printing representative, Ray Halket on the conversion from letterpress printing to offset printing.
Scott Hillier became interested in the funeral profession after attending his first National Convention and Tradeshow, held in Toronto, 1988. Mr. Hillier joined the firm in 1988 and learned the publishing business from the ground up. He immediately began the conversion of all facets of operating the business to computer. Scott’s uncanny aptitude to the computer has kept us on the leading edge in the publication business. Scott purchased the business outright in early 1999.
We appreciate the support we have received from our subscribers and advertisers for the last 100+ years and look forward to your continued support in the future.