McCaw Funeral Service has over a half century of service and commitment to Lloydminster and the greater Midwest community. Their business was started by the patriarch of their family, Meredith (Mert) McCaw in May of 1948 when he moved to Turtleford, Saskatchewan and purchased the existing funeral service firm from undertakers – Jim Ripley of Mervin, Saskatchewan and Adolf Adams of Maidstone, Saskatchewan. Together, Mert and his wife Helen served the towns and surrounding communities of Marshall, Maidstone, Paynton, and the Turtleford-Edam areas for ten years. Today, McCaw Funeral Service still maintains a sub-office in Turtleford, Saskatchewan.
In 1958, Mert and Helen moved to Lloydminster, Saskatchewan to establish a new funeral home. Tragically, Mert died a year later in a motor vehicle accident and Helen was left to operate the business until she sold it to Mert’s brother, Dave, in 1964.
Dave worked for his brother Mert in 1953/54 while attending school in Turtleford. In 1956, Dave came to work for Mert full time, and received his Saskatchewan embalmer’s license in 1958. Dave worked with Mert’s widow Helen until he purchased the business from her in 1964 to continue his brother’s legacy in funeral service. In 1967, another tragedy struck the McCaw family business when an electrical fire broke out at their funeral home in Lloydminster. Joel McCaw, third generation, recalls, “When I heard him tell the story, his main concern was that he needed to get all of the decedents out because his main concern was for the families that they were serving.”
Joel’s father Dale, along with his uncle Glenn picked up the family torch in their family’s commitment to service. Dale McCaw was a partner and funeral director from 1986 until his tragic death in a motor vehicle accident in 2009. Dale’s son, Joel, joined the family business full-time that same year. Two years later, Dale’s second son, Brett also joined the family business. The McCaw’s passion for serving continues today with Joel and Brett McCaw leading the way.
“I think for me the loss of my father to a certain extent, started my journey into total commitment to funeral service. I guess too, when we had my father’s service here, I experienced community support for us. I know we are a continuation of our community here. We very much consider our family being part of their families and we are very fortunate to be able to continue on with what our family started before us,” Joel said.
A successful business is built on hard work and the ability to meet and overcome challenges, Joel and Brett are facing today’s challenges in funeral service head on. “Our family has started to see certain trends like cremation being more in demand than it ever was before when my Grandpa, Dave first started so we decided to build a crematorium in 2008. We knew that we needed this service because before we had to travel to the bigger centers to have this done for our families. We also added a chapel so that our families can have their services there to fulfill their need for something different from a traditional service. We still provide a large number of traditional services but we know there is a need for non-traditional services, so we are also providing that for our community,” said Joel. Joel added, “ People are geared more to not doing the ‘same old, same old’ and we are addressing the different things that are coming up with new solutions, providing unique types of services that the younger generation is wanting. We come from a traditional place, but we know it is important to serve all families to the best of our ability.”
Their use of technology is helping them to bridge the gap between the older generation and the younger generation. They have a very comprehensive website that is easily navigated by all people that need their help. “Our website is something we feel is very closely tied to our day-to-day operations. Our community is commenting that they see our faces every day, know what is going on, who has recently passed away by visiting our website. This is how information is received and transmitted these days so we make sure we have the technology that people are able to find the information they need, even making pre-arrangements online. We find there are more and more families that don’t necessarily have the time to come in and sit with us, but have the time to email us their forms and that gives us a starting point to help them and figure out what is the next step for them. They have recently partnered with Funeral Tech to redesign their website and also to integrate all their different aspects of their site and social media. “By having this technology in place, it gives us more time to be with our families and spend time in our community which is our key thing to do,” said Joel.
In keeping with modern technology, they also use the services of Director on Call. Joel’s father, Dale first reached out to them because he saw a need for their service. Joel recalls, “For him, it just got to the point where these services were available, like call-forwarding, etc. and he felt confident in giving them the responsibility of answering that first call.” Joel went on to say, “For myself now, I couldn’t imagine not having them be part of our business. We can rely on them to answer our phones at any given time and effectively transmit the information to us making it that much easier for us to help our families like we have for the past 60 years.”
Although they have embraced technology which is part of their success; their commitment to community involvement is paramount to their success as well. “For us, it was always taught to us that we don’t just want to meet people at the sad moments in their lives; we want to be involved in many areas of our community and help it grow. With those lessons engrained, Joel is very involved in the arts community because he sees a need. Their community is primarily an oil industry and increased exposure to the arts is a benefit to his community. He is also involved in supporting local businesses all in the McCaw family tradition of giving back. Joel also participates with Handy Van, a local organization that assists people to be able to get where they need to go more easily. “We know that we are just a piece in this larger group, even when we are responding to accidents. We try and do as much as we can for groups like the RCMP, supporting them in their levy or doing special things for them because they are a group that doesn’t always get much recognition or the appreciation that they deserve. Seeing first- hand what they do; it is natural for us to help them.”
Their success also comes from their continuing care and service to their families through their aftercare programs. They follow-up with all of their families with heart-felt cards and hold an annual Christmas Candlelight service for the community. All are invited that have lost a loved one over the past year. “We have received very positive feedback about this service and are happy to provide it for our community. We want all people to have connections with their community and other families that are going through the same experiences,” said Joel.
The McCaws have built a fine reputation and are successful due to their passion for their families and community. “It’s a key part of what we do and why we feel so passionately about what we do. We firmly believe that what we do fulfills a need in society. Society needs a way to observe a person’s passing, honor a life and give the community support for their loved ones they care so much about and that understanding is what we have always worked from,” stated Joel humbly.
McCaw Funeral Service has a bright future ahead with their third generation carrying the torch of their family’s commitment of service to others. “The previous generations have done a lot of ground breaking work and have gone through a lot of hard times; seen a lot of change in the business already. From what I have found, there is a balance between respecting where the tradition of funeral service comes from and where we are headed with it. Staying grounded in our roots and at the same time moving forward, embracing new trends in funeral service and utilizing technology to help all families,” said Joel. McCaw Funeral Service’s work is a tribute to funeral service and successful because they have stayed connected to their passion for service and their community. Their fire for helping others is first and foremost from their beginnings over 60 years ago and will continue to bless their community for years to come. FBA