Stuart Beattie is a man of the world.
He holds citizenship in three countries; he has lived in or visited several corners of the planet; the first people he ever lived with in Australia decades ago are still like family today.
Now he calls The Village at University Gates home and from his suite on the highest floor where he watches the birds and wildlife of the Laurelwood Conservation Area, he shares stories of the path that carried him from England around the world to his home in Waterloo.
Stuart left Carlisle, England with his parents’ blessing at the age of 16, bound for Australia. He says he had an ‘intangible feeling’ that seeing the world was simply something he had to do, like an animal or a bird with a natural instinct to migrate.
He’d considered South Africa and New Zealand, but it was Australia that was eager to welcome young people to fuel its growth, even committing to pay the fare to sail to the other side of the world. He started on a dairy farm and eventually began working in the textile industry, which was the start of a career that would carry him around the world. He’d go back to England with the knowledge he’d gained and, from there, to Switzerland, Germany, Canada and United States.
At every turn, Stuart says he made decisions based on his assessment of the opportunities ahead.
“The thing with moving to different countries was, just about every one of the jobs was through contact with somebody I knew who knew of me,” he says. “Sometimes you have to think and be proactive and have the ability to recognize opportunity when it presents itself.”
Throughout life, Stuart has been fluid and able to pivot quickly, metaphorically speaking. As time moved on, however, his physical ability to move and pivot slowed and he recognized the time was approaching when he may need to move to a space where he could get extra support if needed.
He assessed need and recognized opportunity.
In 2018, Stuart put a deposit down on a space at The Village of Winston Park in Kitchener and he was subsequently invited many times to attend events held there, such as antique car shows or barbecues.
“I’m a people watcher,” he says, recalling those events at Winston Park, “so I was watching the interactions among people and observing the way the staff was interacting with the residents. I watched faces and eyes, before the masks, and I saw that the staff appeared to really care about who they were looking after in that moment, making sure that they were comfortable, and that touched me.”
When he learned that The Village at University Gates was being built, he knew the same type of people would be supporting residents of the new Village, and University Gates had the ideal suite, in his mind.
He moved in at the end of 2020, and found all he was expecting and more.
“What I have found living here, well, it’s kind of like living in a hotel,” he says. “Without exception, all the staff are so nice, and I don’t know how they do it, for I don’t know if I could.”
But Stuart is the type of person who exudes kindness that resonates with the people he connects with, whether in his current home or at any other point in his storied life.
“It’s been a joy,” he says. “You have to take these initiatives and these opportunities in life and run with them.”
All of his choices and all of the lives he has touched have touched him eventually led to his suite overlooking the river at the Village at University Gates, and Stuart is happy to be part of the growing community, just as the community is grateful to have him.