Evan Joseph Gardner, came to Deseronto in 1932 as an undertaker. He had taken his training in Toronto and bought the business from Mr Cornstalk. The funeral home business us to be on St. George Street in Deseronto.
In 1947 he converted the Dryden House, which was on Centre Steet, to a funeral home. The St. George Street building (on the site of the liquor store) was a block, with Gardner's furniture store at one end, the caskets in the middle and Cora Mason's store in the third and a Chinese laundry at the end. Mr. Gardner ran an ambulance service and opened a 'Five to a Dollar' store.
The Gardner family lived on Green Street until they moved to the house on Centre Street. They lived in the whole house, but when there was a funeral, the downstairs rooms were used for the bodies. One year, the family had to have Christmas in the kitchen, as the three downstairs rooms (front room, library and dining room) were being used for three different funerals. Mr. Gardner had to move the tree three times.
When the Gardner`s lived in the funeral home it had three fireplaces, a butler's pantry, maid's pantry and coal chutes, a back and front staircase and curved railings.
Mrs Gardner worked at the funeral home as well. She took phone calls and helped to set the women's hair and apply make-up.
Dr Harold Boyce and Cecil Duffield were friends of the Gardners. George Jackson would help Mr Gardner and Mr Don Walker helped with lifting people. Mr Gardner had a 7-passenger Plymouth which could be used as an ambulance. In 1940 he got a Cadillac hearse. It had carvings on the side in the form of velvet drapes and a cross that could go on top for Catholic funerals. Mr Gardner belonged to the Lions Club, the Independent Order of Foresters, the Oddfellows and Masons. The youngest Master in Deseronto in his time.
The funeral business was sold in 1949, to Jack White. Mr Gardner was diagnosed with a disease that prevented him doing the undertaking. The family stayed in Deseronto after the sale of the business and moved from the funeral home to the apartment above the current Dollar Store on Main Street.
Information taken from a interview with the Gardner sisters (daughter of Mr. Gardner),who lived in the house in the 1930s/40s. Click Here for the interview.