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History of Cremation

At the start of the 20th century, the parliament of the United Kingdom passed the Cremation Act of 1902, allowing the operation of crematoriums as long as they followed strict guidelines outlining where they could be built and regulations as to the maintenance and inspection of the facilities. Around this time, concerns were growing that people were becoming sick from attending funerals and using water that had been contaminated by cemeteries meaning that many health professionals were early champions for the practice of cremation. In 1910, it was decided that all bodies destined for Westminster Abbey had to be cremated, a rule which still applies today.

The Cremation Association of America was formed in 1913. Many churches came to accept cremation in the early to mid twentieth century, however, the Catholic church remained opposed until 1963 when Pope Paul VI lifted the ban. Three years later, Catholic priests were even allowed to officiate at cremation ceremonies.

Cremation wasn’t legally recognized in the Netherlands until 1955.

The 1960’s saw improvements in the cremation process with coal and coke fuel replaced by oil, natural gas and propane.

In 1975, the Cremation Association of America changed its name to the Cremation Association of North America to better acknowledge members in Canada. In that year, there were over 425 crematories in the area performing 150,000 total cremations.

The Cremation Association of North America, or CANA, reported 59% of Canadian deaths resulted in cremation in 2011. To learn more about present day cremation, click here.

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