Cultivating Connections to Home in the Village of Arbour Trails

In 2018, Sandra Bradley was travelling through the small island nation of Malta when she met a fellow traveller on the same tour. When she asked where he came from, he mentioned a small, adult community near the University of Guelph called The Village by the Arboretum (VBA). She knew of it because years before, her parents had at one point considered moving there; her father was an Ontario Agriculture College Alumnus, as many VBA residents are, and the quaint community seemed quite attractive.  

Sandra Bradley's connection to The Village of Arbour Trails is connected to the neighbouring Ontario Agriculture College. 
Sandra Bradley's connection to The Village of Arbour Trails
is connected to the neighbouring Ontario Agriculture College. 

They never did make the move, however, but as Sandra spoke with this gentleman under the Mediterranean sky, she remembered the conversation she’d had with her parents about the VBA community. She remembered the beautiful, Finnish Lapland Pine Tree they had planted at the gates of the OAC Centennial Arboretum Centre to honour her uncle who never returned home from The Second World War. She remembered a connection to those grounds, so when she returned home to Northern Ontario, she decided to visit Guelph to see what the community was like and there, next door to the VBA, she discovered the Village of Arbour Trails.

Not only did this retirement Village offer every possible service for older adults, no matter their health needs, but it also had separate, independent condo suites that still offered access to all other Village amenities. It was the type of place she imagined for herself after her mother moved into a retirement community in Newmarket nine years before.

“As soon as my mother moved in there I said ‘This is what I want someday for me,’ ” Sandra recalls. “I’m not married right now and I have no kids, so I had to think of my future.”

The independent suites of the Ailsa Craig neighbourhood at Arbour Trails were exactly what Sandra had pictured. She didn’t want a house or a townhouse, for with that type of space comes certain upkeep and responsibilities and, as she says: “I’ve been there, done that.” She wanted a comfortable suite that would allow her to pick up on a whim and travel wherever she pleases should the opportunity arise, and Ailsa Craig at Arbour Trails offered exactly that. She moved to The Village in March 2019 and ever since she’s enjoyed getting to know her neighbours in both The VBA and Arbour Trails.

“It suits me,” she says with a gracious smile. “I’m quite comfortable here.” 

In the back of her mind, she also finds comfort in the fact that should her health needs change she has access to all that the full Village of Arbour Trails offers, just a short stroll across the drive from the Ailsa Craig suites. “I know that the future is not guaranteed,” Sandra says, “so this way I figure I’ve got that next step figured out.”

For now, it’s the lifestyle she says she appreciates most about her new home.

“I wanted to keep busy,” she says. “I do aqua-fit; within two weeks I was in the choir; I go to movies and concerts; I go to happy hour.” She has the best of both worlds, it seems, for she enjoys her quiet time in her suite when she so desires as much as she enjoys the social life the rest of The Village offers.

And when the mood strikes her to pack up and head to Myrtle Beach or Europe or wherever her heart desires, she’s free to do so.     

“I am so happy here,” she says. “I can not believe how much I’m enjoying it.”