History

The Canale Family

Marquette native, Mark Canale, became the sole owner of Canale-Tonella Funeral Home in 1986. A 1975 graduate of Marquette Senior High School, he attended Northern Michigan University and ultimately graduated from the University of Minnesota Department of Mortuary Science in 1979. He was employed by funeral homes in the Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota area before returning home.

A firm believer in community involvement, Mark was a past president of Marquette West Rotary Club, past board chair of the Marquette General Foundation, the Community Foundation of Marquette County, was a 14 year board chair of U.P. Catholic Credit Union; is a member of the Knights of Columbus, Marquette Elks Lodge #405, and the Sons of the American Legion.

He is currently serving his second term on the State of Michigan Board of Examiners in Mortuary Science, serves on the board of U.P. Catholic Credit Union, the United Way of Marquette County and STAR Bereavement Services board.

Mark has formerly served as vice president of Catholic Social Services, is a past president of the Lake Superior Hospice Association, past president of the Marquette-Alger Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association and is a former Marquette Ambassador. He also previously served on the Marquette Symphony board.

During his tenure as president of the company, Mark has lead Canale Funeral Homes into its second century of service and has added additional facilities in both Gwinn and Ishpeming. In 2018, the firm will celebrate its 125th anniversary of continuous service to residents of Marquette and Alger Counties.

In 1993 at the firm’s 100th anniversary, Canale-Tonella received the Business of the Year Award from the Marquette County Ambassadors

As far as the history of the funeral home is concerned, it all began when two Marquette businessmen,Carl Tonella and John L. Johnason purchased the former Marquette Furniture Company owned by C.R. Brown and began operating out of a building on North Third Street which had been owned by Fritz Frei.

In 1894 with business thriving, they moved to a three story building on the corner of Front and Spring streets where they announced the addition of the undertaking business. Together they worked diligently at delivering quality furniture to the citizens of the surrounding area and also provide their services as undertakers when called upon to do so. Of course in that era, funeral service had a completely different complexion than it does today.

Embalming, the temporary preservation of the body for funeral purposes, was relatively new, having gotten its start during the Civil War. If embalming was desired, it usually occurred in the family home. At the time of death, the undertaker loaded a coffin into his horse drawn hearse and went to the family with his embalming kit. The decedent was carefully embalmed usually while still in their own bed, and prepared for the several days of calling hours which would soon follow. Many times, a window in the home had to be removed to allow for the entrance of the casket since in those days, there were no formal funeral parlors. Visitation took place in the family home over a period of days. They were called wakes at that time and somebody was assigned to stay with the body around the clock. Wreaths were placed on the front door of the family home to signify that a death had occurred and that a family was in mourning. Family members also identified that they were grieving by wearing a black arm band sometimes over the course of a year.

As time went on and the dawn of the original funeral parlor took place, Tonella and Johnason saw its partnership change as well. Carl Tonella became sole owner of the furniture and funeral business in 1911 and in 1925 they moved to a storefront building on Spring Street in Marquette. Carl Tonella's son, Frank J. Tonella, Sr. came on the scene as a partner in 1914. In 1928, he became sole owner of the funeral business and began pursuing plans to build a new facility, specifically designed for funeral purposes on the corner of Third and Ohio streets in Marquette. That dream became a reality in 1929 and the funeral home has been located there ever since.

In 1943, Mr. Tonella sold his interest in the business to his sons, John F. and Frank J. Tonella, Jr. They jointly managed the business for many years until John F. Tonella left Marquette to purchase a funeral home in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

All the members of the Tonella family who were at one time active in the funeral business are all now deceased with the death of Frank J. Tonella, Jr. on April 18, 2001.

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