The history surrounding the building at 50 John Street North, Arnprior, spans over 5 decades in the funeral business. Before the conversion, this illustrious building was originally constructed as a private home and belonged to the Byrne family. The Byrne family were the owners/operators of the famed NewByrne Hotel - a local bar/restaurant/boarding room facility - one of seven in the lumber town of Arnprior at that time. Following the departure of the Byrnes, the home was lived in by the Redmond family and later passed into the hands of a holding company and rented to several individuals. In 1966, Clem and Doris Smith rented the building and began to transform it into a funeral home. Within months and following many painstaking hours of hard work, the Smith family would care for hundreds of families in their time of need. It is interesting to note that this funeral home served predominantly the Catholic families of this small town and surrounding area. One of the unique features of the Smith Funeral Home was the 1872 horse drawn-hearse, available upon request. Not only was the hearse displayed in a special glass-enclosed show case outside of the funeral home, but the horses were housed in a barn also located on the property.
In 1994, after 32 years of being "on call" 24/7, the Smiths began to plan their retirement. The previous year Clem had met a young man by the name of Andre Pilon at a funeral home in Ottawa. Andre spent his youth in Vankleek Hill and first started working in a funeral home when he was 11. His scout leader/local funeral director gave him more and more responsibilities. He went from working the door to answering the phones to grass cutting, washing cars and other jobs around the funeral home. His aspiration to become a funeral director grew and he eventually worked for other funeral homes in Cornwall and Ottawa. He completed the Funeral Services Program at Humber College in Toronto and then worked a Kelly Funeral Homes and Hulse, Playfair & McGarry. It was here that his meeting with Clem Smith would change the course of both of their careers. Andre showed a keen interest in purchasing the funeral home from Clem and after much kidding and bantering back and forth, agreed to work for one year as a funeral director before taking over the business. On January 2nd, 1995, the funeral home at 50 John Street became known as the Pilon-Smith Funeral Home - a dream come true for the young funeral director by the name of Andre Pilon.
As the new owner , one of the major changes made by Andre was evident in the new signage in front of the funeral home. He hoped to eventually dissolve the Catholic/Protestant syndrome that encompassed this small town and prominently displayed his funeral home as "Serving All Faiths". His friendly, generous and outgoing manner soon elicited positive responses from the community. He believed that "...you get out of a community what you put in. If you are good to people they are good to you." Once the new sign was in place outside, a major renovation of the entire facility was undertaken. Rooms were enlarged, windows and carpets replaced, new lighting and furniture were purchased and additional staff brought on board. The funeral home was taking on a new updated look - a professional facility with quality, professional service.
In 1996, Andre expanded the existing garage space to house his new fleet of professional vehicles. As with all funeral directors, he was meticulous in the care of his vehicles. Many of his new found friends teased him that he had the cleanest cars in the Town of Arnprior.
As his business steadily grew, so did the need for parking space. In the year 2000, adjacent land was acquired and the funeral home parking area was expanded. This increase in business also saw more and more of the families being served were of faiths other than Catholic. As a result the demand for chapel services was also increasing. The idea to build a chapel/reception centre was taking hold and in the year 2001, the new Pilon Family Chapel & Reception Centre was built and opened. The funeral home purchased from Clem and Doris Smith in 1995 - The Smith Funeral Home - was now known in 2001 as the Pilon Family Funeral Home, Chapel & Reception Centre.
In 2005, the Pilon Family Funeral Home - Andre Pilon and his team - celebrated its 10th anniversary. The new logo still reflects the mission statement "Serving All Faiths With Trust, Understanding and Integrity." The home has also seen a "face lift" for the outside of the building with new siding and shutters, taking on a more Victorian look.
While Andre's dream of "Serving All Faiths" was fruitful it was not without consistent hard work and long hours. His confidence in the people of the community of Arnprior and surrounding area has been unwavering and he continues to be a dedicated, professional and compassionate individual. He prides himself on the presentation of his facility, his loyal staff and excellence of service delivered by all.
As the Town of Arnprior is a growing community, the Pilon Family Funeral Home will continue to develop and change as the need arises - all without compromising "Serving All Faiths With Trust, Understanding and Integrity."