Blog Post

Scattering Cremated Remains in Ontario

Ahsan Ahmed
May 27, 2021

Cremation rates are on the rise. In 2000, approximately 48% of Canadians were being cremated and by 2004 that figure rose to 72%.  As cremation rates rise, families want to know what they can do with their loved one’s cremated remains (also known as “cremains”). In this article we discuss the options for scattering cremains in Ontario. 

What can I expect when scattering?

People are often surprised to learn that cremated remains don’t look like the soft, fine ash from a campfire or a fireplace. Cremains are usually grey and have a somewhat coarse texture (mostly made up of unburnt bone fragments). They are heavy, so don’t expect cremains to gently float off in the wind and be ready to spread them around.   

Where can I scatter cremated remains?

In Ontario, you have several options for scattering cremains: 

  •  Crown Land: Cremated remains may be scattered on any unoccupied Crown lands free of charge and without a permit. Crown lands cover 87% of Ontario and include Crown lands covered by water (e.g. the Great Lakes), provincial parks, and conservation reserves. Make sure that there aren’t any signs prohibiting scattering and make sure that you are on Crown land and not municipal property (e.g. city parks), which may be subject to different by-laws. The city of Toronto, for example, does not allow scattering in city parks.
  •  Private Property: Cremains may be scattered on private property with consent from the landowner. 
  • Registered Cemetery: Cemeteries often sell scattering rights to scatter remains on their grounds. 

Any additional tips for scattering?

A little bit of preparation goes a long way. Here are a few tips for a successful scattering: 

  • Make sure that you are scattering down wind and standing upwind. You don’t want the cremains you have just lovingly scattered to blow right back at you. 
  • If you aren’t scattering cremains in water, bring water, paper towel and/or some wet wipes. Cremains stick to skin and it is not uncommon to get some on your hands or clothes while scattering.  
  • Be respectful of others. Make sure that your loved one isn’t going to blow into your neighbour’s bbq or a park-goer’s swimming area. 

Where to scatter is a personal choice, but in Ontario we are lucky to have lots of fantastic options for a natural final resting place.