Franz Rosar was 13 years old when he emigrated with his parents from Prussia to Buffalo, New York, in 1842. He learned the trade of a molder and might have spent all his working days making fine wooden moldings to decorate doors, windows, cupboards, and stairs in homes and offices had he not decided to move to the county of York in 1853. There he met Rosalia Solleder, the daughter of John Solleder, an emigrant from Prussia and, like Franz, a devout Roman Catholic.
Franz, or Frank, as he came to be known in Canada, married Rosalia in 1868 and settled down to the business of making moldings. However, his father-in-law, John Solleder, had been an undertaker in the city of Toronto since 1861, and Frank’s talents with woodworking were soon put to use in making coffins.
Five years after his marriage to Rosalia Solleder, Frank Rosar joined his father-in-law in the undertaking business in a little building at the corner of King and Power streets in the city of Toronto. Since they were Roman Catholics, and since they were in the same block on Power Street as the House of Providence and St. Paul’s Church, it was natural for them to be called on frequently to assist in the laying out of the dead of the parish. Embalming was not common practice in the 19th century. Someone outside the family was usually called upon to wash and layout the body in the home, and then to build the coffin in which it was to be buried.
The carpenter/undertaker who performed this work soon became involved in organizing additional details of the funeral, such as ordering the crepe to hang in the house and on the door where the deceased was lying, ordering the necessary black horses and hearse to transport the body to the church and then to the cemetery. He might also be called upon to hire a carriage for the family and to provide several pairs of black gloves for the pallbearers.
With the advent of embalming at the turn of the century, undertaking became a full-time business in the growing city of Toronto. The business of woodworking was shifted to others, as Frank Rosar became recognized as one of the local undertakers. Early in that career, he was noted for his work with charitable organizations. At the time of his death in 1903, he was remembered as a man with compassion who had provided many funerals free of charge to those who could not pay for his services.
When Frank died, his wife Rosalia kept the business running with the help of two of her nine children - Edward and John. The boys moved their business to a large house at 180 Sherbourne Street, where they operated until 1925 under the name of F. Rosar Undertaker. In 1924, Edward had the opportunity to buy a fascinating house further north on Sherbourne Street, and for a couple of years the F. Rosar Undertaking business operated out of two locations.
Upon Edward’s death, his sons John, nicknamed Bud, and Edward, took over the family business, which relocated as F. Rosar Funeral Director to 467 Sherbourne Street during the growth and development of Toronto from the 1930s to the 1960s. As was common in that period, the proprietor lived upstairs. As business developed, it became necessary to make some alterations to the old house. In 1945, an addition was built which joined the original house to the exquisite coach-house on Bleecker Street, which provided additional space for visiting rooms.
In 1961, Bud Rosar purchased the lot to the north of the funeral home from the Catholic Children’s Aid Society and made the convenient parking lot which serves the funeral home today. Above the funeral home at 467 Sherbourne Street, Bud Rosar and his wife raised four daughters. One of them married Tom Morrison, who became a licensed funeral director and worked alongside his father-in-law. Bud Rosar died suddenly in 1965, and Tom Morrison took over in 1966, becoming president and putting his own individual stamp on the operation of the Rosar-Morrison Funeral Home.
Tom Morrison has four children. His only son, John, joined his father in the business in 1977 and became vice-president of the company in 1980. In 1988, John purchased the business from his father and was proud to be the sixth generation of a single family involved in funeral service in Toronto. In fact, Rosar-Morrison is the oldest operating funeral home in Toronto, having begun in 1861. It marked its 125th
anniversary of service to Toronto with the expansion of its facilities on Sherbourne Street in 1986.
The Morrisons renovated the coach-house at the rear of the property facing Bleecker Street and converted it into a chapel to accommodate the growing numbers of people of diverse religious traditions who come to Rosar-Morrison for help in their time of bereavement. They renovated the second floor of the building to provide a gracious setting for post-funeral receptions. People come from all over the Greater Toronto Area to this downtown location, and the provision of kitchen and lounge facilities where people can gather for refreshments after a funeral service is becoming increasingly more popular.
Today, we are proud to be a member of the Dignity Memorial® network of funeral, cremation and cemetery service providers. Dignity Memorial providers offer exclusive benefits, including National Transferability of Prearranged Services, the Bereavement Travel Program, the 24-Hour Compassion Helpline® and access to an acclaimed grief management library. As North America’s largest provider of funeral, cremation and cemetery services, the Dignity Memorial brand is your assurance of quality, value, caring service and exceptional customer satisfaction.