Restoring Abbotsford’s front porch

By Pat Goyeche

What’s old is new again!

The official ribbon cutting for Abbotsford House’s restored front porch took place on Friday, November 19. The original porch, built just under 150 years ago, was quite different from today’s version. It was originally much longer, from the front door to underneath the front window, and the stairs faced Bank Street. Over time the porch changed, as did the needs of those who were housed in the building. Around 1975, the house was renovated and took on its present incarnation as a seniors centre, serving the Ottawa region by offering programming and services to help maintain and support seniors living in community. The rotted pillars that were recently removed originally came from a previous porch on the side of the building. The many photos of the porch over the years show varied pillars, steps, layout and materials.

The building was declared a heritage property in 1984, and its façade was therefore protected by law. Because of that heritage status, many rules and regulations had to be followed in the redesign and rebuild of the porch. Because of our inexperience with such detailed work, an architect was hired to provide much-needed project management. Thus began an almost daily exchange of emails between the city, the architect, the builder and our team on each and every detail.

Thanks to the generosity of numerous donors – including a bequest from the late Ann Denis, a gift from an anonymous donor and a corporate donation from Amica (The Glebe) as well as donations from Abbotsford members – the project got underway in June and is finally complete.

We are grateful to everyone who saw the need for the restoration, and we are so pleased to see the house looking as loved on the outside as it is on the inside.

Renewal of the porch serves as a symbol of the restoration of engagement and activity for our seniors.

Back in person, and still online

In September of this year, we were finally able to open our doors to the public again. Ping Pong, Mah Jong, Muscle Toning, Aerobics, Yoga, Stained Glass, Conversational French and our Caregiver Club are among the many activities that are back and running strong again indoors!

We are currently selling homemade teddy bears, baby blankets, Christmas ornaments, puzzles, books, ladies’ clothing and jewellery, and flea market items. Stop in and support our volunteers who help keep Abbotsford viable by donating their talents and time to our not-for-profit seniors centre.

We added more indoor classes and clubs as the fall progressed and will offer even more in the New Year. We will also continue to run online classes over Zoom at the request of our large membership. We will continue to ask those who enter our building to show proof of double vaccination and to follow public health measures.

Memberships for 2022 went on sale as of December 1; registration for winter classes began the following week. The cost of membership is $50 and lasts for a full calendar year. Look for a full list of January/February/March classes and clubs under Current Guide on our website and join in!

Collecting flea market items, books, jewellery, women’s clothing, puzzles and art once again…

We will start accepting these items in the New Year, with the plan to sell them both in house Monday to Friday and at the Great Glebe Garage Sale in the spring. Your donations are most appreciated.

Please drop by to collect a paper copy of our guide, to become a member or a patron or to admire our newly restored porch. Think of us when you think of seniors in the community. We have been “Building Community Since 1975!”

Abbotsford is your seniors active living centre. We are 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) Mon.–Fri., 9 a.m.–4 p.m., telephoning 613-230-5730 or checking out all The Glebe Centre facilities and community programs on our website

Pat Goyeche is coordinator of community programs at Abbotsford.

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