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Got a dead body to ship? Come to Leaside

The sparkling white building with the black trim on Wicksteed, opposite Lincoln Electric, announces itself as MacKinnon & Bowes. That’s all. What is the business being run from this building?

It’s a funeral-related business, and Allan Cole, the president and owner of the company, stresses that they do not serve the general public.

It’s a behind-the-scenes business, he says, serving funeral professionals with extra staffing, vehicles and other resources as needed. The company also makes various items needed in the funeral business, and is proud that the materials are all Canadian. There is also pride in being a local company, supporting other local businesses wherever possible, and participating in events to support charities.

Over 90 percent of the funeral homes in the Greater Toronto Area use their services for overnight transfers, house calls and as an as-needed phone answering service.

They are also Canada’s first and only company with the qualifications and skills to repatriate human remains to and from Canada, and they can call upon their worldwide network of affiliates when needed.

The business moved here in 1997 to get additional space, but prior to that it was on Broadview north of the Danforth since 1966. The original owners, Mr. MacKinnon and Mr. Bowes sold the business to Cole in 1983.

When Cole first moved to Leaside he had difficulty persuading by-law officials that it was not a retail business, did not serve the general public and that the business fit into an industrial area. With much perseverance, they now have an official letter confirming their legal status. They plan to stay in Leaside, and with no thought of changing the company name either, even though Allan Cole’s son, Alex, is now also working with the company.

In addition to running the company, Cole Sr. is the current chair of the board of Bereaved Families of Ontario – Toronto Chapter.

The actual building has a story to tell as well. It was originally a tractor parts supply depot, with a loading dock in the middle, on the fringe of the Leaside airport. In time the building use changed to become Moco Radio, a com-pany that sold, installed and repaired two-way radios and taxi meters.

That business morphed into being the original MiKE push-to-talk network, which was later taken over by Telus. You can see as you walk through the building that bits and pieces have been added as needed, with stairs to various half-levels. It even has two board rooms, the one that was in place during the radio businesses and the newer, larger one with a 20-seat table.

There is also a bit of a language lesson here too. The company belongs to the International Federation of Thanatologists. Thanatology turns out to be the scientific study of death.