OMNI launches fresh, new website

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New website has several new and improved features

PETERBOROUGH, Ont. – After nearly a decade of few changes The OMNIway launched a fresh, new look Dec. 1. Read more

Resident sculptor sparks journey of discovery for college student

Discovery of the Hands, sculpted by Streamway Villa resident Frances Gage, sits at Fanshawe College in London, Ont.

Discovery of the Hands, sculpted by Streamway Villa resident Frances Gage, sits at Fanshawe College in London, Ont.

OMNIWay adds to quest to grow awareness of Frances Gage’s work

For several seasons now, David Dimitrie has waited in an alcove at London’s Fanshawe College to take the bus home after class.

There’s a U-shaped perennial garden in the area called the Hull Family Gardens, and in the middle of it sits a white plaster statue of a woman looking down, seemingly at peace. Dimitrie, who is a mature student, always finds serenity in this space after a hectic day of study and became intrigued with the statue, which carries an aura of mystery because it bears no identification or description.

Now, with the help of an OMNIWay story, other articles, an autobiographical book and research, Dimitrie is learning about the sculpture, called Discovery of the Hands, and its creator, Frances Gage, who lives at Streamway Villa in Cobourg.

“It was always in the back of my mind to find out who made this (statue) and how did it get there,” says Dimitrie, who’s connected with Gage indirectly through The OMNIWay and Streamway Villa life enrichment co-ordinator Christina Verleysen.

The more he’s discovering, the more he’s come to admire Gage for her adventurous and independent spirit.

“I’ve read quite a bit in the book and stories about her and she’s actually had more hardships than privileges,” Dimitrie says, adding this contrasts with the general perception that artists and patrons are somewhat privileged.

From a difficult childhood to financial challenges, physical pain and some self-doubt, Gage persevered to become a classically-trained artist in a range of media and techniques. The 90-year-old is regarded as one of Canada’s most prolific sculptors, creating hundreds of pieces — a number of them commissioned works gracing public spaces.

“It just seems to me she found her way,” Dimitrie says. “She didn’t do (sculpting) as a pioneer. She did it because this is what she wanted to do and this is what she needed to do.

“She seems to have been the kind of person to go ahead and take the chance and say, ‘This is what I want to do.’ I truly admire that,” he says.

“She worked very hard at it; it wasn’t given to her,” he says.

The people that Gage has met or worked with “reads like a who’s who of Canada,” such as the Group of Seven’s AY Jackson and former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, yet she’s remained approachable to all, Dimitrie says.

He relates to Gage in a number of ways. Both Windsor natives, they have naval experience and share a strong love of animals. One of Gage’s favourite sculptures — as she related to The OMNIWay — is Woman at the Women’s College Hospital in Toronto. “My wife was born there so that really touched me,” says Dimitrie, who can’t wait to see the sculpture on his next visit to Toronto.

An experienced community journalist of 20 years, Dimitrie’s affinity for Gage and her work is leading him to write a story for Fanshawe College’s student paper. His research is revealing the lengthy ties of Discovery of the Hands to Fanshawe College, as well as another Gage creation commissioned for the college, a four-panel bas-relief in walnut.

Dimitrie hopes to be able to generate awareness of Gage’s connection to the college and some form of public acknowledgement, such as a plaque for Discovery of the Hands, which originally stood outside of the president’s office. Dimitrie’s found information about a rededication ceremony Gage attended at some point, but there is no marker with the sculpture now.

As the college undergoes significant expansion, Dimitrie believes it is important to remember its roots. “Frances Gage has a prominent part in the roots and founding of this college, and I hope that I can do a little bit to make that known.”

In his initial contact with The OMNIWay, Dimitrie stated in an e-mail that he wished Gage “could know how much her work of art has brought (peace) to me” in stressful times. He also sent a photo he’d taken of Discovery of the Hands — Dimitrie has actually photographed the sculpture in different seasons as its appearance changes with the surrounding foliage and the positions of the sun.

“I have to say this is the first time that I have ever really fell in love with a sculpture,” he wrote. “It has a special home at Fanshawe College.”

The OMNIWay shared Dimitrie’s correspondence with Verleysen who, in turn, brought it to Gage.  As soon as Verleysen hung the Discovery of the Hands photo on Gage’s wall, Gage “had so many stories to go with it,” Verleysen says.

Verleysen says Gage’s talent and contributions to Canada’s artistic community are well known and she has many admirers. “She is truly an inspiration,” Verleysen says.

Dimitrie, who says he became “choked up” when he learned his words had been shared with Gage, hopes to be able to grow interest in Gage’s life and work.

“This whole story has been a journey and it’s not done yet,” he says.

He adds that Gage “has had a remarkable life and she should be proud of it.”

If you have a story to share or feedback on this article, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 25, or e-mail lisa(at)axiomnews.com.

Almonte celebrates Vi Larose’s 100th birthday

Almonte Country Haven resident Vi Larose sits in front of her birthday cake surrounded by loved ones who came to celebrate her 100th birthday.

Almonte Country Haven resident Vi Larose sits in front of her birthday cake surrounded by loved ones who came to celebrate her 100th birthday.

Large-scale effort makes resident’s special day possible

Almonte Country Haven recently celebrated the 100th birthday of lifelong Almonte, Ont. resident Vi Larose. Read more

(VIDEO) RPN reflects on 21 years at Springdale

https://vimeo.com/112945515

PETERBOROUGH, Ont. – Diane Rainbird has been working at Springdale Country Manor for 21 years, but she’s been interested in long-term care even before she earned her registered practical nurse (RPN) qualifications. Read more

Almonte grants resident’s wish to ride in limo

Almonte Country Haven resident Pat Taylor gets ready to go on a limo ride with Tom Toomey of TIP Limousine Service.

Almonte Country Haven resident Pat Taylor gets ready to go on a limo ride with Tom Toomey of TIP Limousine Service.

Never Too Late to Realize Your Dreams initiative comes through again

Since moving into Almonte Country Haven in 2009, Pat Taylor has ridden in an 18-wheeler, a Cessna plane and now a limousine through the home’s Never Too Late to Realize Your Dreams initiative. Read more

Streamway Christmas bazaar ‘best one ever’

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LEC says family involvement, advertising early made the difference

Christina Verleysen has organized the past five Christmas bazaars at Streamway Villa, but the one held on Saturday (Nov. 22) was the “best one ever,” she says. Read more

The secret to improving resident locomotion: Persistence

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Country Terrace significantly above ministry benchmark in this area

The key to improving locomotion for long-term care residents is persistence, says Country Terrace physiotherapist Burton Moon. Read more

(VIDEO) How a summer job 29 years ago turned into a career

PETERBOROUGH, Ont. – It was the summer of 1985 when Sarah Roote took a job at Springdale Country Manor, thinking it would just be a temporary position. Read more

Kimberley Noftle’s band helps raise money for cat charity

Country Terrace CCC Kimberley Noftle (centre) is seen here performing with her band Blue Mojo during a fundraiser for the Alzheimer Society.

Country Terrace CCC Kimberley Noftle (centre) is seen here performing with her band Blue Mojo during a fundraiser for the Alzheimer Society.

Second fundraiser in three months for Country Terrace CCC’s group raises more than $1,400

Country Terrace clinical care co-ordinator (CCC) Kimberley Noftle jokes that her band, Blue Mojo, is on the fast track to becoming known as a charity fundraising group — and that’s OK with her. Read more

Best not to interfere with relationships between LTC residents with dementia: Alzheimer’s society

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An earlier OMNIway series revisited to discuss British charity’s claim

The U.K.’s Alzheimer’s Society has a message for long-term care home staff members when they see romantic relationships developing between residents with dementia: don’t interfere. Read more