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Step by Step Guide to Choosing a Cemetery Memorial

A cemetery memorial is a lasting and unique way to remember the life of a loved one. They provide a place for people to reflect and grieve – and act as a physical reminder of the individual who has passed away.

Choosing a memorial is a very personal and subjective experience and involves various parties – from family and loved ones to memorial specialists and cemetery personnel.

However, there are some basic steps to follow when choosing a memorial that will help the process go more smoothly and be one less thing to worry about. Here’s our short step-by-step guide to the process.

HGH Granite Hartog Memorial


1. Orientation

Before picking a location within the cemetery, decide if you would like the memorial to be an upright monument or flush grass marker.

2. Size

By-laws outlining what memorial type and the permitted size can be installed on the site and these are specific to each cemetery. Make sure to check, when purchasing a plot, that the cemetery will allow for the size of the memorial you have planned.

3. Overall Look

Once you have chosen a memorial site you can begin to picture how you would like the memorial to look. A great way to get ideas is to take a walk through a cemetery and take note of the various colours, shapes and designs. You can also browse memorial displays – online or in brochures – to find a design that meets your requirements then share these findings with the memorial specialist so they have a better idea of your vision ahead of the design process.

4. Suitability & Foundations

Memorial sales staff will be able to confirm if the memorial you have in mind will be suitable for your chosen site and can also order a memorial foundation if required. The foundation is installed beneath the base of an upright monument, to add stability while the ground around the memorial moves due to the natural elements. In some areas this is a concrete foundation which is poured up to 48 inches deep – while other areas might require a 4-inch thick granite foundation slab.



5. Colour & Material

Next you will want to choose the colour and material of your memorial (see our guide to choosing granite colours). If you’re considering a granite memorial with sandblast engraving or etching, we would recommend going with darker colours, such as American Black, Jet Black, and Cambrian Black which give great contrast. Once the colour is confirmed the design process can begin.

6. Stone Orders

After the dimensions, colour and final design drawings of your memorial are approved the granite/ stone can be ordered (unless you choose one that is already in stock).

7. Engraving

Once the granite/stone arrives the engraving process begins. Click the link to get an idea about the types of engravings, etchings and hand sculpting you can opt for.

8. Delivery & Installation

Once completed, the memorial is delivered to the cemetery for installation on the appropriate lot.

As we mentioned in the intro, every memorial purchasing process is unique – and there can be extra side steps depending on the style, size and location of your memorial. However, these eight steps represent a typical process. We hope you find it helpful.

Contact us today

Did you know that we at HGH Granite have been providing granite services for the last 90 years? Our vision and business model have helped build a loyal customer base that relies on our expertise and quality workmanship. Over the years, our team has grown with like-minded individuals that share the same passion for providing outstanding granite products and services. Let us help build you your vision.

Your Ultimate Guide to Granite Colours

‘Colour is my day-long obsession, joy and torment’. So wrote artist Claude Monet once upon a time. Here at HGH, we agree wholeheartedly with the first two statements. As for the torment? Well, only when faced with extended delivery times on popular colours, perhaps.

As you might have guessed, this blog is all about colour. Granite colours. We are quizzed a lot on this subject. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at some of those most-asked questions and provide you with the answers! For more about our granite colours, you can also download our colour book.


Are there specific granite colours that are good for specific projects?

Not Really. Here’s the thing, there isn’t any right or wrong colour to use. Provided the material of choice has the qualities suitable for the application, the colour is totally down to you. Whether a memorial, landmark, or piece of public art, go with whatever fits your vision and gives you a good feeling. You can take look at our whole catalogue of colours.


What’s the best colour to use for intricate engraving and etching projects?

Dark granites work best for sandblast engravings and etchings. Black granites such as American Black, Jet Black, and Cambrian Black give the best contrast – while colours such as Brits/ Impala and Laurentian Green work well too.

What are the most popular granite colours


Jet Black by a long shot. And we get it, it’s dramatic and punchy and has a huge impact on any project. However, Cambrian Black is increasing in popularity. It is a beautiful dark black material that has more character than the standard Jet Black. After black, there is strong demand for colours such as Brits/ Impala, Indian Red, Laurentian Pink, Barre Grey, Stanstead Grey and Mt. Rose.

Do clients order a mix of colours or one dominant colour? 

It depends on the type of sale. For streetscape projects, most clients will choose one dominant colour. However, cemetery clients often choose a wide variety.


Is there a difference between the permanence  of different granite colours? 

Some. Not all. Blue and green granites tend to fade once exposed to the natural elements. Black also has a tendency to lighten up a bit. In summary, blue will remain blue, green will be green and black will be black, but the hue or tone may change slightly over time.


Are there any colours that need more restoration and clean-up? 

The colour itself doesn’t cause the granite to require more or less restoration, or clean-up over time. However, the location in which it’s installed definitely affects this. For example, granite installed in a shady, damp part of a cemetery or streetscape can be expected to develop moss or moisture staining on the surface much more quickly than a memorial installed in a bright open area of the same cemetery or street.

Will we ever see new colours in granite? 

As quarries expand and grow, we expect to see more variation and new colours over time, for sure.


Are there any new techniques that are creating new granite colours? 

There are not many new finishes or textures to be found in the industry. Granite has been around a long time! The colour we get is whatever Mother Nature has is store for us. We can’t do a lot to change that unless we use different finishes to create a variety of tones.


What are the granite trends to look out for?

We expect high demand for black granite to continue into the foreseeable future. For streetscape and architectural use, we expect to see more use of light colours, particularly light greys such as Barre Grey, Imperial Grey or Stanstead Grey. This is because of the stones’ high SRI (Solar reflective index) – meaning its light colour absorbs less heat than dark granites.


Which is your favourite granite colour? 

We love them all here at HGH but it definitely depends on the application. American Black or Cat’s Eye is stunning in a monument, but for streetscape projects Platinum Black and Cambrian Black pack a punch.

Are there any HGH projects that have a particularly dramatic use of colour? 

The Four Seasons Hotel project will always be one of our favourites. For obvious reasons!


Contact us today

Did you know that we at HGH Granite have been providing granite services for the last 90 years? Our vision and business model have helped build a loyal customer base that relies on our expertise and quality workmanship. Over the years, our team has grown with like-minded individuals that share the same passion for providing outstanding granite products and services. Let us help build you your vision.

The Benefits of Ordering Ahead of Time

There’s a saying that goes ‘Punctuality is the soul of business’. 

We agree. Although we’d also add ‘People’ and ‘Product’.

At HGH, we pride ourselves on getting our valued customers’ orders to them right on time.

It’s integral to the success of a project, shows respect to our customers, and is key to our own ongoing business success. 

However, it’s a busy time in the world of granite right now, and we wanted to let you know that an increased demand for delivery – both domestically and internationally – is resulting in delays and increased lead times on granite.


What does this look like?

Domestic orders for granite – which previously took 6-8 weeks – and international orders, which took 3-4 months, both now have a current lead time of 5 to 7 months. 

The exception to this is on these granite colours: Mt. Rose, Red Deer Mahogany, and Laurentian Pink – whose lead times currently exceed 7 months. 


What factors have led to the delays?

There has been a significant increase in domestic orders, particularly with more complex pieces – such as P5 special shapes monuments, sculptures and polished margin bases – that would typically have been ordered from overseas. And these are creating a backlog in production due to the additional time they require to create.

Quarries and plants are facing a serious shortage of available workers (a knock-on effect of the pandemic), and this is also a big issue – with not enough labour coming into the workforce to fill the gaps. There’s also been a drop in the availability of trucks to ship raw material and finished product.

All of which has created the perfect storm for delays. Which brings us too…


The benefits of ordering ahead of time

We know it’s not always easy to plan ahead – that sometimes you need something, and you need it now. However, in the current climate, the benefits of ordering granite ahead of time can mean the difference between a completed or postponed project.

Getting your orders to us well in advance – 7 to 8 months ahead of time, being optimal – will result in successful projects and happy clients. Consider placing an order in October or November and have it arrive just in time for spring sales. 



We’ve got this

Just to reassure you, we’re constantly monitoring the current situation so as to minimize disruption to your orders. We hope the above information has been helpful but if you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.


Contact us today

Did you know that we at HGH Granite have been providing granite services all over Ontario for the last 90 years? Our vision and business model have helped build a loyal customer base that relies on our expertise and quality workmanship. Over the years, our team has grown with like-minded individuals that share the same passion for providing outstanding granite products and services. Let us help build you your vision.

How Hand Sculpting Can Bring A Monument To Life

Granite has been used to construct some of the world’s most beautiful and durable monuments, sculptures, public artworks, and landmarks – due to its versatility, natural beauty and durability. These days many granite businesses – HGH being one – are equipped with new tech and equipment to support the design process, using solutions, such as:

  • CAD based design progams
  • CNC cutting and milling
  • 3D modelling software

But there are some projects when nothing less than the hand-sculpted work of a master craftsperson will do. At HGH, our craftspeople use the following tools regularly to create striking sculptures with natural stone:

  • Air Hammer: pneumatic hammers provide maximum power and are used with a selection of carbide chisels for removing layers of excess material from granite to reveal a more defined and refined pattern or design in the stone. Pneumatic hammers range in size, making them suitable for roughing large applications down to projects that require detail and precision.
  • Chisels: pneumatic diamond and carbide chisels are used for bushing, cutting and roughing and come in a range of sizes and styles. They are generally used in multiple steps of the sculpting process to create the shape. For the fine artistic details, a sculptor selects chisels with finer tips to allow them to carve out small, intricate areas.
  • Die Grinder: a sculptor will use a die grinder and attach diamond plated wheels and diamond blades to shape and create the final artistic details of a project. As the finer details take shape, using smaller sized blades allows the sculptor to produce the final definition.

A look at some of our favourite hand sculpting projects

We’ve had the privilege of working on a variety of iconic monuments and projects throughout our history. Here are just a few….

Maanjidowin (The Gathering), Toronto

The Maanjidowin sculpture, which sits in a lofty position beside the ferry terminal that takes passengers from the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport to downtown Toronto on the mainland, was commissioned by PortsToronto to honour the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation and their relationship to the land, air and water (on which the airport now operates).

The sculpture – created by David M. General, Mohawk Nation, Wolf Clan of the Six Nations – features three mythical fishers who’ve arrived at Toronto’s Lake Ontario shoreline to fish. The canoe in which they sit is inscribed with words and symbols signifying the Mississaugas’ guiding principles. The animals were hand-polished in India, and HGH provided the granite and engraved the finished artwork.

Markham Veterans Square, Markham, Ontario

This historic cenotaph was reimagined, refurbished and unveiled as part of a new multi-functional site to honour Markham Veterans in 2018. The memorial serves as a gathering place for the community and stands tall alongside Veterans Square. We provided the granite, and our craftspeople hand-shaped each of the oak leaves.

Moccasin Identifier, Trillium Park, Toronto

Trillium Park on Toronto’s iconic waterfront comprises 7.5 acres of public green space, filled with native trees, plants, flowers and beautiful sedimentary rocks and boulders. Inspired by the Ontario landscape itself, the park was designed in consultation with the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. The Ravine with Moccasin Identifier comprises two stone walls connected by a bridge that frames Lake Ontario and forms the gateway to the park. A celebration of First Nations’ heritage and culture, the moccasin identifier engraved into the stone is a visual reminder to recognize and honour the past. HGH provided the granite on this project and our craftspeople engraved the large-scale moccasins onto the Ravine’s granite walls.

Joseph Brant Museum sculpture, Burlington, Ontario

We sourced granite from our partners in India for this sculpture by indigenous artist David M General, which will sit outside the Joseph Brant Museum in Ontario. The figurines were hand-polished in India and HGH will carry out the final installation.

Hand Sculpting Inspiration

Looking for more hand sculpting examples? Take a look at the below showcase of projects HGH has collaborated on.

Contact us today

Did you know that we at HGH Granite have been providing granite services all over Ontario for the last 90 years? Our vision and business model have helped build a loyal customer base that relies on our expertise and quality workmanship. Over the years, our team has grown with like-minded individuals that share the same passion for providing outstanding granite products and services. Let us help build your vision.


Black Granite Shortages

Indian Black Granite Challenges – And 3 Solutions

Here at HGH we’re continuously briefed on the status of the quarries we source from around the world – and have recently been told by two of our valued suppliers in India that the industry is experiencing difficulties in sourcing Jet Black and Premium Black granites.

Being 100% transparent with our customers and clients is a cornerstone of our business, which is why – although the news might spark some concerns – we think it’s important to share it with you now.

Firstly, we’ll discuss the contributing factors behind the shortages – and secondly, we’ll offer a range of reassuring solutions

What are the contributing factors to the Indian black granite shortages?

  1. Demand
    There’s been a surge in demand for Indian Black over the past few years – an effect of black quarry sites in both China and Africa being closed, depleted, or delivering insufficient quality.
  1. Quarry closures
    During the pandemic, many black granite quarries in India were shut down because they weren’t compatible with adequate social distancing measures and put workers at risk. Multiple quarries remain closed. While new quarries are soon expected to open in three states in India, it’s not expected these sites will begin extracting granite, due to stringent, new environmental restrictions.
  1. Decreasing yield and quality
    A number of the quarry sites that supply us with Jet Black and Premium Black granite are currently running around a depth of 200 feet. Unfortunately, the yield is decreasing due to an increase in flaws. We’re aware of cases where black blocks come out of the quarry and the outside of the block appears to be our Jet Black material, but once cut and polished, it takes on the appearance of a coarse medium grain that can’t be classified as Jet Black.
Ajax Legacy Obelisk, Ajax, Ontario, Canada
Ajax Legacy Obelisk, Ajax, Ontario, Canada

What are the solutions?

Let us reassure you that we’re still able to supply you with the Jet Black and Premium Black granites from India that you love. However, to reduce reliance on this in-demand stone, ease strain on quarries – and keep your customers happy – we suggest the following:

  1. Suggest and promote alternative blacks to your clients, such as Cambrian Black or American Black
  2. When selling, encourage your clients to consider alternative granite colour options from both domestic and overseas quarries
  3. We recommend highlighting the distinctiveness of variegated granites to your customers, too. Aurora, American Black, Bahama BlueParadiso and Himalayan Blue are all beautiful and make cemetery memorials truly unique.
Cambrian Black and Himalayan Blue
Cambrian Black and Himalayan Blue

We’re constantly monitoring the current situation in an effort to minimize the disruption to your orders. We hope the above information has been helpful – but if you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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Granite rocks in every sense of the word. Here’s why… Continue reading “5 Reasons Granite Is The King Of Rock For Public Projects”

Why Cemetery Memorials Are So Important

At HGH Granite, we’ve had the huge honour of creating memorials and gravestones for a wide range of clients. Each brief is special to us, and we pour our expertise, knowledge and craftsmanship into every aspect. We believe cemetery memorials are important for many, many reasons – and here’s why: Continue reading “Why Cemetery Memorials Are So Important”

Granite Repair Services

One of the many advantages of using granite is its durability and the ability to look great for years with minimal maintenance. However, like everything else, granite can also suffer damage that might need an expert hand. This is where HGH Granite comes in to provide you with years of experience in installing and repairing granite in Ontario. Read on to learn more about our granite repair services. Continue reading “Granite Repair Services”