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Mystery ashes reunited with family

August 24, 2016 12:50 P.M.
Ruth Hartnett with husband Maurice. (


The daughter of a woman whose urn showed up at a local recycling depot was more than a little surprised to learn about the whereabouts of her mother's ashes.

Last Tuesday, a box of electronics was dropped off at Columbia Bottle Depot on Kirschner Road in Kelowna. Among the old electronics was an urn, full of ashes.

The name on the urn was Ruth Elizabeth Hartnett. When staff at the recycling depot contacted the crematorium the urn was from, they learned Hartnett died in 1987 at 78 years old.

C.J. Taylor, a supervisor at the depot, contacted Castanet, in hopes of finding an appropriate resting place for Hartnett's ashes.

After the story was published, a relative reached out to Castanet and gave contact information for Hartnett's daughter in Kamloops.

Maureen Campbell was estranged from her mother at the time of Hartnett's death and never knew where her ashes had gone when she died.

“I had two brothers, and one deceased a few years ago, so I'm thinking the last brother went and they just cleaned everything out, I don't know, I have no idea,” Campbell said. “I'm not in touch.”

Despite their relationship at the time of Hartnett's passing, Campbell said she would still like to pick up the ashes.

But, when she reached out to the Columbia Bottle Depot, the ashes had already been picked up.

“Apparently, my middle brother Dennis's widow claimed them in Kelowna,” Campbell said.

A genealogist also reached out to Castanet, after finding some details about Hartnett's past.

Using and the BC Archives, Nancy Dalsin found Hartnett was born in Weyburn, Sask., in 1908.

She was living in the Sutherland Hills Rest Home in Kelowna when she died in 1987. Her husband, Maurice Hartnett, passed before her.

Campbell, having not see her mother for years before she died, has no idea how the ashes ended up where they did.

“I don't think anyone should end up in a recycling depot, good God. It's terrible,” she said.


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