It all began more than two years ago with Ariadne Sawyer, one of the Care Aids of Greenwoods (a 50-bed intermediate care home on Saltspring Island), remembering being told by a professor of folklore at Berkley, that the elderly are the treasure chest of living history. With this in mind she began collecting all kinds of stories from interested residents. At first she met with some resistance: “I have nothing to offer.”, “I haven’t had an interesting life.”.
But, as residents’ trust and faith grew in this amazing lady, she met with a tremendous response.
She did not use a tape recorder since she found that it detracted from the speaker and interfered with the special rapport between the storyteller and herself. Most of the stories were written down, in the speaker’s own words, in longhand then copied out later in legible manner. Then they were read to the residents for their approval, and additions or corrections were done, thus capturing each person’s individual and unique style.
Slowly the idea for a book started to grow, and in May, 1981, the Greenwood’s Story Book Group was formed. The group successfully applied for a grant under the New Horizons Program, enabling this idea to be changed into reality.
To Ariadne Sawyer, without whom this book would have never come about.
To the residents of Greenwoods, for showing us that you can get caught up in an idea no matter how old you are.
To the young artists, mainly from the local school, who gave the whole project extra spark.
To Mr. Tom Watson, the school principal and Mr. Chuck Nelken, Grade V teacher, for their immediate support.
To Barb Woodley, for the superb photographs.
To all the Greenwoods staff for their enthusiastic support.
To the Greenwoods’ Board of Directors, for their belief in and practical support of the project.
To all those individuals behind the scene, like the person who “proofread”, the people who did the typing etc.
And at last but not least, to the Department of National Health and Welfare Canada, for providing funds.
Opening Day at Greenwoods, June 4th, 1979
by Jean Manning
The weatherman kept us on tenterhooks right up to the last minute, then decided on a gentle but firm breeze and some sun.
So the proceedings got underway outdoors.
The table for the “officials” was put in front of the lobby window, to allow the “shut-ins” a view of the proceedings.
At this table were: The Right Honourable Henry P. Bell-Irving – Lieutenant-Governor of B.C.; Mrs. Florence Jones at 97 years of age, the eldest resident of Greenwoods; Mrs. J Lorraine Campbell, President of the Greenwoods Board of Trustees; Ms. Jean Manning, President of the Greenwoods Resident Council; Health Minister Robert McLelland; MLA Hugh Curtis; Mr. R Goldsworthy, Architect; Mr. Malcolm Pinteau, Administrator of Lady Minto Hospital and Greenwoods; Jonna Mattiesing, Greenwoods Co-ordinator; and Reverend McEachern, representing the local clergy. Also at the table were the Greenwoods board of trustees who were: Mrs. I. Brookbanks, Mrs. J.S. Craig, Mr. J.W. Edwards, Mrs. I.B. Goodman, Mr. G. W. Henderson, Mrs. E.V. New, Mrs. I.M. McManus, Mr. P.R. Layard, Mr. V. Roddick and Mrs. O.M. Stepaniuk.
The national anthem was sung and there were speeches by the Lieutenant-Governor, the Health Minister, the Reverend and others.
While the scissors were placed in front of Mrs. Jones, she stood up and told the following story…
“I was a matron on the staff of a Northern Indian Residential School.”
“One day, three or four small children were sitting by the door of the school. They had only just learned to speak English and one of the sentences they had learned was ‘Open the door, please,’ and that’s what I am going to say now.”
The ribbon was cut, as the G.I.S.S. School Band played God save the Queen.
When the doors opened, Mrs. Manning presented Mrs. Campbell with a bouquet of flowers and everyone proceeded to a smorgasbord and a lovely punch.
We then went on a tour of the building and were proud of the beautifully clean halls, sitting rooms, etc. The tour ended in the courtyard, where tea was being served and old friends met and had enjoyable chats. (The weather stayed blustery, but sunny).
One small fly in the ointment happened during the speeches and ceremony. The wires from the recording system extended across the driveway to a sound box. A small red-headed boy, apple in hand, walked a few paces forward and trod on the wire, cutting off the speeches, substituting the crunch of an apple.
Three times he dashed back and forth, cutting off parts of an important speech with his half-eaten apple.
It was a remarkable, memorable day for Greenwoods and other guests.