Like a lot of other questions in life, the answer to whether it’s legal or not to scatter cremated remains cannot be answered with a simple yes or no. Although it is not illegal to do so, there are certain rules to abide by to respectfully complete this practice. There are a variety of ways to scatter ashes, each offering their own unique way to remember the deceased. Before choosing to scatter your loved one’s remains somewhere, be sure to take a moment to consider whether there are any guidelines to follow.
Scattering Remains on Crown Land
The government recognizes the religious importance of scattering the remains of loved ones. Because of this, scattering human remains on unoccupied, provincial Crown land in Ontario has been legal since 2009. Whether the provincial park covers water or land, there are not any actual laws to follow while scattering cremated remains there; in addition, government consent does not need to be granted. However, the Ministry of Natural Resources encourages those who use the parks for this purpose to be environmentally responsible to help preserve Ontario’s natural beauty. This can be accomplished by refraining from leaving physical structures such as plastic flowers or notes at the scattered remains site, leaving the natural vegetation in the park as you found it and remaining on certain trails and roadways.
National parks do not allow scattering remains in water, although you may ‘cast them to the wind’ without obtaining permission.
Scattering Remains on Private Property
Choosing private property to dispose of your loved one’s remains is slightly different. The owner’s consent must be received before doing so. If the owner wants to allow for many cremated scatterings to take place on his or her land, the property must be licensed as a cemetery. Consequently, a licensed cemetery operator would need to be responsible for the cemetery.
Other Options Available for Scattering Cremated Remains
In Ontario, it is legal to sign a contract with a licensed operator of a cemetery, crematorium, funeral home or transfer service to scatter the cremated remains on your behalf.
Another option to consider is to purchase the rights to place the remains in a columbarium in a registered cemetery, or to scatter the remains on municipally-owned land (if there aren’t any bylaws prohibiting this action).
One final option is to transport the remains outside of Ontario.
The Legalities Vary Depending on Where You Live
In most of Canada, there are not any actual laws regarding scattering cremated remains. However, there are always guidelines to follow that will need to be considered prior to scattering the ashes. Take the time to research your city or county’s rules regarding this practice. For those who live in a country other than Canada, be sure to research whether any laws pertain to scattering cremated remains before completing this action.
Have More Questions?
Choosing what to do with something as monumental as your loved one’s cremated remains can be difficult. Contact the professional, understanding staff at Circle of Life Cremation and Burial Centre for more help with this decision.