About Our Family

Essentials is operated and supported by Krystal and her family. We are a small but mighty team dedicated to caring for our community and serving our families. We are pleased to introduce our family to you!

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Professional Photo of Krystal

Krystal Riddell

Position: Owner | Managing Funeral Director
Email: [email protected]
Categories: team

Krystal grew up living throughout the Niagara Region. During her high school years, she attended AN Myer, Ridgeway Crystal Beach High and Thorold Secondary School. Immediately following high school, she moved to Toronto and attended Humber College to become a Licensed Funeral Director.

Krystal completed her internship and continued to work at the George Darte Funeral Home, in St. Catharines, for 10 years. During her time spent there, she had an invaluable experience, as she learned and developed an extraordinary level of standards and care that she was honoured to extend to the families she helped.

As Krystal grew into the role of being a funeral director, she proudly contemplated different ways she could effectively give back to her community. Krystal is a Past President of the Niagara District Funeral Services Association. She is a passionate and dedicated Rotarian for more than 5 years and recently completed a full term as Club President of the Rotary Club of St. Catharines South. Krystal is past chairperson of Spiritual Development and a member of the Catholic Women’s League. She also contributes her time and philanthropic support to the Tool Box Project- Niagara, Community Crew, Hospice Niagara, and other local community organizations.

As an environmentalist, Krystal is a an advocate and a leader within her profession for encouraging and promoting eco-friendly death care services.  She is a member of the Green Burial Society of Canada, where she sat on the board for 2 years. She has ensured that Essentials has achieved a Three Leaf Certification with the Green Burial Council.

Through the years, Krystal has had a deep desire to be a leader in her profession and within her community. She is extremely passionate about helping families in their time of need, and is committed to serving all families with the highest level of professionalism and care. For Krystal, this profession has never been “a business”, it has always been about helping and taking care of people in all capacities. Over the past 17 years, Krystal has seen first hand the change in economical times and funeral traditions. She believes in the importance and need to offer an effective and affordable death care service.

Krystal is married to her husband, Dave. Together they have two sons, William and Alex. Also not to forget their dog Flynn and cat Archie.

We are proud to have created a family owned business, and consider it a great honour to have the opportunity to look after those in need of help during some of the most darkest times. Our sole purpose is to always look after our community in any way possible.

Krystal Riddell

Owner | Managing Funeral Director
Kayleigh Peterson Professional Image

Kayleigh Peterson

Position: Funeral Director
Email: [email protected]
Categories: team

Kayleigh was born and raised in the Niagara Region. Following high school, she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Brock University. After experiencing a death in the family, Kayleigh decided to pursue funeral service as a career, and attended Humber College to become a Licensed Funeral Director. She obtained her license in 2012, and would then go on to complete her internship and work for 10 years at the George Darte Funeral Chapel in St. Catharines, gaining invaluable experience. Kayleigh enjoys helping and supporting families. She understands the importance of well-guided death care and providing exemplary service to families in need. She is a natural leader with our team and as a funeral director. Kayleigh joined the Essentials family in late 2021 and is happy to be a part of a team that believes in the highest standard of care for families. When she is not working, Kayleigh enjoys spending time and travelling with her partner and their two golden retrievers.

Kayleigh Peterson

Funeral Director
Professional Photo of Crystal

Crystal Cameron

Position: Funeral Director
Email: [email protected]
Categories: team

Crystal was born in North Bay and moved to the Niagara Region when she was a young girl. Funeral services have always interested her, and in grade 9 she participated in a “take your child to work day” and visited a local funeral home. Crystal was drawn to the atmosphere and sense of honour that comes with caring for families and their loved one. All of the aspects and facets that go into planning a funeral became such a fascination. Throughout her adulthood she worked at Lifetouch School Photography and General Motors, but in 2018, Crystal decided to follow her dreams of becoming a funeral director. She traveled back and forth daily from Welland to attend Humber College and graduated in 2020. When she is not helping families through their difficult times she enjoys: spending time with family; spouse Simon, four children, puppies and friends, as well as native drumming and working occasionally for a local food truck Country Boys.

Crystal is pleased to have joined Essentials Cremation and Burial Services and looks forward to supporting local families.

Crystal Cameron

Funeral Director
Josephine Roy Professional

Josephine Roy

Position: Funeral Director
Email: [email protected]
Categories: team

Josephine was born in St. Catharines and raised in Welland, where she resides today alongside her fiancée Kevin and fur baby Felix. After graduating Ecole Secondaire Jean Vanier in 2013, she pursued her studies to become a funeral director at Humber College and obtained her Funeral Director Class 1 license in 2015. She would go on to complete her internship and work for 8 years at a funeral home in St. Catharines, where she gained valuable knowledge and grew into the funeral director she is today. Josephine joined the Essentials team in June of 2022 and is passionate about helping others. She is honoured to be working alongside her colleagues and assisting families in Niagara.

Josephine Roy

Funeral Director
Professional Photo of Melaina

Melaina Gava Barkhouse

Position: Co-Founder and Team Support
Email: [email protected]
Categories: team

Through her young life, Melaina grew up in Chippawa. She was raised in a family of seven; Phildean and Sergio Gava were the parents of five, David, Melaina, Andrea, Rick and Steven. Her time is spent with her husband Gary Barkhouse and being a mother of three; Krystal (David) Riddell, Brittany Rea (Ada) and Xandinn Barkhouse.

Melania is also very proud of her title “Nonna” to William, Alex, Desmond, Dean and Emmy. Melaina contributes her experience to planning, marketing and day to day operations of Essentials. You will find her friendly smile as sometimes she provides assistance as a receptionist, and also assists Krystal and the team during funerals and memorial services.

It is with great pleasure she joins her daughter, Krystal in starting our own family business.

Melaina Gava Barkhouse

Co-Founder and Team Support
Professional Photo of Cathie

Cathie Cretney

Position: Family and Team Support
Email: [email protected]
Categories: team

Cathie joined the Essentials family as a supportive team member, in February 2020. She has a passion for serving families who are grieving the death of a loved one. Cathie and her husband, Bob, have been the chaplains at Lookout Ridge Retirement home in Fonthill since it opened in 2008. In her spare time, Cathie enjoys spending time with their 9 grandchildren and playing the piano. It is a privilege for Cathie to be part of such a compassionate team, who serves Essentials’ families with great care, honour and respect.

Cathie Cretney

Family and Team Support
Rebecca Hagglund Professional Photo

Rebecca Hagglund

Position: Bookkeeping Administration and Celebrant
Email: [email protected]
Categories: team

We first connected with Rebecca in her role as a Funeral Celebrant, as she walked alongside families in their time of loss, creating personal and meaningful end-of-life ceremonies. She joined our team at Essentials in November 2019, assisting us in the office, and she found that she enjoyed learning the different aspects of funeral care.

Rebecca is a graduated from Humber College’s Funeral Pre-Planner program and she helps Krystal with her small business bookkeeping. Rebecca’s husband Steve and their two sons, Jeff (Shelby) and Zach, have been an encouragement to her as she has grown within her role as both a funeral and wedding officiant. As a family, they make special memories each summer when they go camping and they always enjoy playing their musical instruments together.

Rebecca is so pleased to be a member of the compassionate and dedicated team at Essentials, doing what she loves to do best – helping families.

Rebecca Hagglund

Bookkeeping Administration and Celebrant
Professional Photo of Barb

Barbara Heise

Position: Family and Bereavement Support
Email: [email protected]
Categories: Bridge to Hope, team
Barbara worked as a Registered Nurse for 45 years. She found herself in several different areas of nursing over the years including: emergency, renal transplant, psychiatry, VON, industrial, and in a doctor’s office. After retiring, she became interested in hospice volunteering and grief support. This was an amazing experience that lasted for 9 years. Barbara realizes that listening is a great way to help someone in their grief and she knows what a positive experience a group can give to anyone who is grieving. Barbara is proud to further assist families at Essentials, by providing grief support and by co-facilitating our upcoming bereavement program “Bridge to Hope”.

Barbara Heise

Family and Bereavement Support
Professional Photo of Elizabeth

Elizabeth Williams

Position: Family and Bereavement Support
Email: [email protected]
Categories: Bridge to Hope, team

Elizabeth was born in St Catharines and has spent her entire life in the Niagara Region, residing in Niagara-on-the-Lake for the last 25 years.
Elizabeth’s bereavement journey began when her youngest sister passed away at the age of 30. While working through her own grief, she began facilitating Grief Recovery classes at a funeral home in St. Catharines. During this time Elizabeth realized her passion for helping people and pursued this as a special role spending 32 years serving people during their time of grief. A certified grief specialist, Elizabeth has participated in numerous talks and clinics on grief and loss. Elizabeth spent 28 of those years working at George Darte Funeral Home as a receptionist, office and administration manager. Elizabeth has volunteered with Hospice Niagara and with the reading program at St.Michael’s school in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

She has been married to her husband Gary for 49 years, with 2 married daughters, and a 12 year old granddaughter. In her spare time she loves to garden, craft with he granddaughter and travel with her husband and family.

Elizabeth is proud to assist families at Essentials by providing grief support and co-facilitating our upcoming bereavement program “Bridge to Hope”.

Elizabeth Williams

Family and Bereavement Support

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