Abbeyfield House creates habitat for wildlife

Abbeyfield House now has a wildlife-friendly garden. Photos: Ruth Gray-Beauchamp
Camilla Amundsen, a resident of Abbeyfield and an avid gardener, accepts a certificate from the Canadian Wildlife Federation designating the Abbeyfield garden as a Wildlife Friendly Habitat.

By Ruth Gray-Beauchamp

The residents of Abbeyfield House, a 10-person seniors’ residence, were pleased recently to have the Abbeyfield property and garden designated as a Wildlife Friendly Habitat by the Canadian Wildlife Federation. This was a process that the residents enthusiastically initiated and pursued on their own. They discussed the look of a tidy garden versus a wilder, unmanicured look, and they decided to leave the lawn a bit rougher, to not weed some borders at the back and to encourage a stand of milkweed. Fortunately, the use of pesticides or chemical fertilizers had not been part of their gardening routine.

The residents reviewed the Wildlife Friendly Habitat criteria and used some discretionary funds to buy a bird-feeder system, mixed birdseed and a few native perennials. With the help of volunteers, they paced off the size of the urban property and determined how much of it could be designated for habitat. They researched native insects and bird-friendly plants, assessed existing plantings and made space for new plants. They invested in a squirrel-proof birdfeeder system and made good use of an existing birdbath, Columbine and wild roses.

Abbeyfield gardeners at work

Over the summer, residents shared watering and maintenance of the feeders and birdbath. In September, photos and an application were sent to the Canadian Wildlife Federation. In October, we received a certificate, which is proudly displayed at the front door, and a plaque, which has been added to the Abbeyfield House sign in the front yard.

This achievement is an example of the importance of smaller housing situations for seniors and what can happen when they have a say in what happens in their home. A residence with only 10 seniors supports each individual and encourages communal decisions where possible.

For more information about Abbeyfield, please see our web site at

Ruth Gray-Beauchamp is vice- president of the board of directors as well as the director of residency for Abbeyfield House. 

Abbeyfield House Ottawa is a non-profit organization that has been serving low to moderate-income seniors for 25 years. The house provides accommodation for 10 seniors in a safe, supportive and social environment. Current residents range in age from 72 to 96. They have all chosen to no longer live alone. They live in a small, friendly residence with their own private room and all meals provided. This family environment allows residents to maintain their independence while not worrying about house maintenance or preparing meals.

The residents enjoy companionship when they want it and privacy when they need it. Residents also appreciate having a safe place to live that doesn’t have an institutional feeling. Abbeyfield House has a full-time cook/coordinator, a part-time house manager and various relief positions. A volunteer board of directors and many other volunteers support day-to-day operations and help promote a warm and friendly atmosphere. The house is located at 425 Parkdale Avenue, next to Parkdale United Church and close to the Parkdale Market.

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