Funerals opened doors to the world for local man

by Sandy Lindsay

March 29, 2014

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                                                                                                    photo by David Bailey

Blaine Little, Funeral Director   

In life, funerals are a form of closure for families but, for Blaine Little, funerals have opened doors to the world.

A former graduate of Port Elgin High School, Little went on to study anthropology at the University of Windsor but found it was a difficult field in which to find work.

After being persuaded by a cousin to apply to a college funeral services program, Little went on to complete two years of training.  "One of the most difficult things at the beginning," says Little, "was the embalming lab.  It really brings the concept of dying close to home."

During his second year in the program, Little went to work in his first funeral home in Wawa in northern Ontario.  As in any small town, working with funerals is working with families.  "As you get to know people, you realize that being part of a funeral is about helping friends and the people you know," adds Little, "and it can be very satisfying."

While Little worked in Canada, Japan began to explore the field of embalming and those who were Canadian-trained became in high demand.  For Little, it became the opportunity to see another world and, for the next 16 years,  he traveled throughout Japan working in Saitama, Hiroshima, Chiba and then Kagoshima for five years.

Although he found the work similar to Canada, Little found that he was working exclusively as an embalmer and missed having no interaction with families and overall funeral arrangements.

In his travels, Australia had appealed to Little.  "I found the people similar to Canadians," he says, "and when the opportunity came up to work in Bunbury, Australia, I took it."

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Today, Little works with the family-owned and operated, William Barrett & Sons [ www.barrettfunerals.com.au ] Funeral Home on the west coast of Australia.  While Little is 'the Canadian' on staff, the business has more Canadian ties. 

Adrian Barrett, who now manages the family business and who is President of the Western Division of the Australian Funeral Directors Association, also received his training in Canada at Humber College in Toronto, Ontario.

Originally from Ireland, William Barrett began the company that not only conducted funerals but that also built coffins and, today, the fourth generation continues in the family business.

Little still maintains close ties to Canada as his parents, Carol and Dave Little, live in Point Clark, Ontario. The couple recently traveled to Australia, where they had the chance to visit with their son in Bunbury.

Information Sources: South West Times, Bunbury

                                   [ www.swtimes.com.au  

                                   and Carol Little, Point Clark

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