By Julie Ireton
After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, Abbotsford at the Glebe Centre is once again inviting the public to the old stone farmhouse across from Lansdowne Park for Doors Open Ottawa on Sunday, June 5.
While it will mark 20 years for this popular event in the city, Abbotsford House is celebrating 150 years since its construction. Originally built in 1872, Abbotsford was the private residence of Alexander Mutchmor. In the late 1800s, the home stood on a two-acre treed lot with a stable and gardens. It eventually became a home for elderly residents and was known as the Protestant House of Refuge.
Today, the heritage house offers numerous activities for seniors including aerobics, language classes, community support services and day-away programs for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia. These programs benefit from fundraising throughout the year, events that have largely been on hold throughout the pandemic.
This spring, for the first time since 2019, organizers are throwing their energy into the senior centre’s major fundraiser at the Great Glebe Garage Sale on Saturday, May 28. It will be held both indoors and outdoors, rain or shine. Look for art, books, jewellery, women’s clothing and lots of flea market items.
Deb Hogan started volunteering at Abbotsford last fall and quickly became one of the many members involved in sorting through hundreds of items donated by the community for the garage sale tables.
“Every box we open is unique and kind of a window into the home that it came from,” said Hogan. “I often find myself thinking, what’s the story behind these items?”
A huge variety of treasures come in the door, she says. In the past week she unboxed a dozen champagne glasses and two hand-stitched quilts.
“We treat the donations with great respect. They meant something to somebody at some point,” she said.
About a dozen volunteers have been working in pairs, a couple of days a week, to get ready for the sale.
Bev Hellman, who relocated to Ottawa from Saskatchewan to be closer to her daughter and grandchild, said the volunteer group has allowed her to meet new friends.
“I didn’t know anyone before,” said Hellman. “We call ourselves the fleas. We’re women who love to go to garage sales, second-hand and antique stores.”
One of the volunteers researches the rarer or more valuable donations and recently discovered they’d acquired a $500 cup and saucer.
While the garage sale brings in money to aid Abbotsford programs, organizers realize that the time they spend together sorting the wares has other benefits, especially after two years of isolation.
“It’s so nice to get back with these women, just chatting with them and catching up,” said Hellman.
Abbotsford is your seniors active living centre for adults 55+. It houses the community programs of The Glebe Centre Inc., a charitable, not-for-profit, organization which includes a 254-bed long-term care home. Find out more about our services by dropping by 950 Bank Street (the old stone house) Monday to Friday, 9 a.m.–4 p.m., telephoning 613-230-5730 or by checking out all The Glebe Centre facilities and community programs on our website: glebecentre.ca.
Julie Ireton is a journalist who contributes regularly to the Glebe Report on issues affecting Abbotsford.