Church prepares for Rita MacNeil’s funeral

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The funeral for entertainer Rita MacNeil will be held today, Monday, at St. Mary's Church, Big Pond. MacNeil is shown here on the Christmas Daddies Show.

SYDNEY - A wake was held for singer-songwriter Rita MacNeil at the T.W. Curry Funeral Home Saturday.

Friends and family turned out to pay their respects to one of this country’s best-known entertainers.

MacNeil died Tuesday of complications following surgery She was 68.

MacNeil’s funeral will take place today, Monday, at 2 p.m. at St. Mary’s Church in Big Pond.

When asked how many he’s expecting to attend the service on Monday,  Father Joe Gillis said it was hard to estimate.

 “I don’t know how many - we’ll know when the day is out how many came,” said Father Gillis. “We can’t do much about that - we just have so many spaces and people will have to accomodate themselves to that.”

According to Gillis, the church, which overlooks the Bras d’Or Lake, holds 250 people and 50 of those seats will be reserved for family. Up to 450 people will be seated in the nearby fire hall where they will be able to watch the funeral through a live video feed. The funeral will also be streamed live by CBC, online at If more show up at the church, they may have to wait outdoors.

“They’ll be coming in from everywhere, I’m sure,” says Gillis. “If it’s a fine day, they can stand outside. The church will be filled and the hall will be filled, so they’ll just sit on the lawn and look at the lake.”

The weather Monday is expected to be sunny but chilly at 3 C. The Nova Scotia Department of Transportation has already issued warnings that traffic could be heavy in the Big Pond area before and after Monday’s funeral and for motorists to take caution.


Organizations: T.W. Curry Funeral Home, Church in Big Pond, CBC The Nova Scotia Department of Transportation

Geographic location: SYDNEY, Mary, Big Pond CAPE BRETON

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Recent comments

  • fern.michalenko
    April 22, 2013 - 20:05

    I will deeply miss this wonderful lady. She had the voice of an Angle! Rita you will be missed but never forgotten. I alway had you in our hearts at Christmas and always will. Love your songs.

  • Janette Stephenson
    April 22, 2013 - 10:38

    the world had lost a wonderful entertainer .i am from new waterford living in ontario many years ago i got to visit ritas tea room with my aunt thay swore she new rita sat down in her tearoom and you never guess the lady herself came out and said hello and brought us our tea and biscuits never will i forget this i do have some relatives that have sang with the men of the deep god bless you all JANETTE

  • mary hogan finlay
    April 22, 2013 - 09:43

    I think the angels have invited Rita to join Stompin Tom to a kitchen party in heaven. They both faced many challenges in life and taught us to use our gifts to share and overcome adversity. As a fellow Maritimer, I am so proud of her and treasure her beautiful words and voice she has left us.I think we now should stand firmly on the earth today and sing out so she can hear us in she joins the peace MHF

  • joan mitchell
    April 22, 2013 - 09:07

    I will miss her singing sooo much. I saw her in london on. many yrs. ago. I play her cd all the time. The rose is the most beautiful song I ever heard her sing. I never met her but I sure wish I had. Her cousin is a plumber here in the St marys area and I always enjoyed talking to Mike when he came here. RIP Rita I will miss you dearly...Lv Joan

  • rod stordy
    April 22, 2013 - 06:47

    My thoughts and prayers,go out to all the family of rita' as being born and raised in pel.the maratimes hold a special jem in my heart music that much talent in the east coast of you speed your wings and fly hi breast in peace you will live on in my heart.