When a loved one dies and people are in grief, one of the first places they have to visit is a funeral home.
© Herald photo by Jodi Schellenberg
Marianne Turcotte, the manager and co-owner of Beau Lac Funeral Home in Prince Albert, sits by the fireplace in the facility’s family room, which can also be used for viewings.
Often funeral homes are a dark, sad place, with an impersonal feeling but the Beau Lac Funeral Home gives the opposite impression with a homey atmosphere.
The Prince Albert branch of the Beau Lac Funeral Home opened in October, said manager and co-owner Marianne Turcotte.
“Beau Lac Funeral Home actually originated in Spiritwood and then later moved into Shellbrook,” Turcotte said. “I joined the Beaulacs in ownership and opened here in Prince Albert.”
Turcotte has worked in funeral homes in the city her entire career and is a licensed funeral director, embalmer and salesperson in Saskatchewan.
“I have the qualifications to take a family from preplanning right through the situation,” Turcotte said.
Although she didn't dream of being a funeral director as a child, she did always want to help people in times of need.
“Originally I always liked the idea of health care,” Turcotte said. “The reason I liked health care was because I liked to be able to help people. I find that funeral service is just a different way of helping people at a different time.”
After working a number of years in Prince Albert, Turcotte wanted to give the people she was helping a more personal experience and decided to go into business with the Beaulacs.
“ I really liked what they had to offer -- I liked that they completely focus on taking care of families,” Turcotte said. “Their No. 1 goal is that the families come first. It is not necessarily about having an elaborate facility but more what happens inside of it and the feeling people leave with.
“It is about going above and beyond and exceeding people's expectations,” she added. “I think a lot of time people are intimidated. It is a scary place to come to in a time of need. They are feeling extremely vulnerable and I am really proud to be able to offer families a comfortable atmosphere.”
She said even though some people might feel intimidated in other funeral homes, she feels all funeral directors have the same goal.
“I think in funeral service everyone wants to help people but I think (Beau Lac) has taken the focus away from the facility and put it onto the families,” Turcotte said.
Since the facility is smaller than other funeral homes – there is a small sitting room when you walk in the door and a larger family room towards the back, complete with couches and a fireplace – many people have been concerned Beau Lac cannot offer all the services other homes do.
“Some of the questions we have gotten since opening are because we don't have a chapel in our facility people think we can't offer funeral services,” Turcotte said. “With us, the difference is we don't have a chapel but we have had some family gathering and it is about utilizing the space.”
Although there is no chapel, the couches can be moved from the family room and a viewing can take place there, she explained.
As for funeral services or celebrations of life they “use facilities that are of meaning to the family, so whether that is a church or a hall or community centre – there are a lot of different places in Prince Albert and surrounding areas to hold funeral services or celebrations of life.”
If people want the all the services to be held in one location, Turcotte said that isn't a problem, but it will just be in a location other than their facility since they have no chapel.
There is only a small staff and resources in Prince Albert, but that is not a problem when it comes to holding a service, Turcotte said.
“We have a whole fleet of vehicles but instead of having all those vehicles at one funeral home, they are spread across three,” Turcotte said. “Depending on where the need is, then we are able to work more efficiently by sharing resources like vehicles and even staff.
“We are able to share the professional expertise back and forth, as opposed to having a large crew in town or in one area, it just makes more sense to have a couple of people at one location and people share as you get busy,” she added. “A lot of what happens in funeral service is that there are ups and downs in term of the different times we are busier than others and we can't predict that, so having the different homes we are able to be more efficient in everything we do.”
So far, the new funeral home has been really well received, she said.
“Our open house was well attended and far exceeded my expectations, especially with the day -- it was the first day we got snow and it wasn't the best day for people to come out,” Turcotte said. “We have had a lot of people come in who are curious to see what our difference is and they have been pleased with our approach.
“Of course, we have been able to serve a number of families since opening, so that has been humbling,” she added. “We just opened and being new to having a home in Prince Albert, it has been nice to have the opportunity to work with those folks.”
Not only does Beau Lac want to give people the funeral their loved ones deserve, Turcotte said they also care about people.
“I think that it is the level of service and the genuine care that is demonstrated to every family that walks in our door,” Turcotte said. “It is not so much the facility you are in, but what happens in it.”