Riverside Glen sharing stories with CFRU radio

We recognized that many people are spending hours a day consuming coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic and it was becoming the root cause of stress for some of our residents. We also understand that we all need connection for our well-being and that the pandemic has presented us with some challenges to maximize our ability to connect with others.

We reached out to Jenny Mitchell, host of Bridging the Social Distance on CFRU 93.3FM radio to see if she would be interested in interviewing our residents to give them an opportunity to share their stories and perspectives on life and times. Jenny shared our excitement about the opportunity and the positive impact our work together could have on Bridging the Social Distance in our village and Guelph community.

Jenny has helped our Village of Riverside Glen feel less isolated and alone, share invaluable #ElderWisdom, learn something new and better know each other.  The Village of Riverside Glen is grateful for our relationship with Jenny Mitchell and CFRU.

“…seniors have rich full lives full of stories of perseverance, adventures, travels, love, and family.  They’re also no stranger to loss, and are aware of the difficult time we are living through as we move through this pandemic together…by connecting and sharing we are able to share the burden and know we are not alone....  It’s truly beautiful”- Jenny Mitchell

Archive of Episodes:

Dec 26, 2020 Bridging The Social Distance | Listen

For this episode I interview John Potter, and his daughter Catherine. John is a WWII veteran who lives at The Village of Riverside Glen. I was lucky enough to speak with him on Remembrance Day, and today's conversation follows John through his experiences in the war as a Navy wireless operator on the HMCS Regina - a Royal Canadian Navy revised Flower-class corvette which took part in convoy escort duties during the Second World War.

Dec 26, 2020 Bridging The Social Distance | Listen

For this episode I interview John Van Esch, a resident at The Village of Riverside Glen. John's history and work experience is so interesting and unique, and subsequently this interview ventures into so many fascinating topics not previously explored on this show. Having come to Canada from Holland at the age of 18, John started at Biltmore Hats in Guelph, and went on to become a scientist/chemist, and cheesemaker. We talk about his work at Biltmore, Gay Lea Foods, and the University of Guelph, and his adventures in retirement traveling the world volunteering for Canadian Executive Service Organization (CESO), teaching farmers across the globe. So many good stories! In every kind of place! From teaching a farmer who makes 8 bottles of chocolate milk per day in sterilized beer bottles, to homemade mozzarella and pizza making in a Soviet apartment. It's wild. Thank you so much to John for sharing!

Dec 26, 2020 Bridging The Social Distance | Listen

For this episode I interview Ann Weeks, a resident at The Village of Riverside Glen Ann moved to Canada about fifty years ago from Ireland. She's a dedicated gardener, and knits, crochets, and does jigsaw and word puzzles to pass the time. Today she shares stories of work-life in Ireland, where she worked in a tobacco factory, and the girls pooled their pennies each week to buy the latest records to listen to together while they worked. And she shares some of the difficult aspects of living in a senior-care facility, including how hard it is to reconcile loss. She feels very well supported and is keeping herself busy and we're grateful to her for connecting with us!

Dec 26, 2020 Bridging The Social Distance | Listen

For this episode I interview Lois Wilson, a resident at The Village of Riverside Glen. Lois is an Ontario resident by birth growing up near Mississauga and Brampton in Churchville. She worked for a time at the Churchville General Store before studying to be a secretary, and later becoming a teacher. Her life has been surrounded by close extended family - growing up her family's farm was right next to the farm of her father's brother and sister, and they all grew apples and shared farm machinery and sold produce at the St. Lawrence Market, and later her strong bond was with her nieces, one of whom encouraged her to choose Guelph for retirement-living. There have been difficult losses, but Lois has lots of awesome family to help get her through this difficult time. Thank you to Lois for sharing your story!

Dec 26, 2020 Bridging The Social Distance Listen

For this episode I interview Madeline Wenman, a resident in Long-Term Care at The Village of Riverside Glen. Madeline was born and raised in Bristol England. At 98 and a quarter years old, she has many stories to share, that span many significant historic events. She worked in nursing her whole adult life, and met her husband (who fought in the war) when she was treating his sister.

She contributed to the war-effort in England, and worked here in Guelph at our hospitals. Fascinating stories. So much to learn from Madeline! Thank you Madeline for sharing your story!

Nov 11, 2020 Bridging The Social Distance Listen

For this episode I interview Alice McNutt, a resident at The Village of Riverside Glen . Alice grew up in Nova Scotia (outside of Truro) where she lived one house over from her future her husband, her brother’s best friend, and after they married they moved to Toronto to seek work, and lived there for 60 years. Today Alice and I bond over our love of East Coast, and our love of the trip between Ontario and Nova Scotia, especially taking the small backroads. Alice and I both deeply miss hosting friends in our homes, and Alice shares some insightful advice into learning how to downsize and say goodbye to belongings when the time is right. Thank you so much to Alice for connecting with us!

Nov 11, 2020 Bridging The Social Distance Listen

For this episode I interview Betty Green, a resident at The Village of Riverside Glen. Betty shares wonderful stories, of growing up in Dromore, a town founded by her Grandfather, who started a farm, post office and general store, which her family went on to run afterwards. Betty has endured a lot of loss and hardship at different points in her life, but she has a wonderful extended family that spreads across this area and Owen Sound, and does an amazing job staying connected. She has also maintained a close relationship with her church in Arkell, and faith, community and family are all helping her navigate these pandemic times. Thank you so much to Betty for sharing your story!

Nov 11, 2020 Bridging The Social Distance Listen

For this episode I interview Mike Lesperance, a resident in Long-Term Care at The Village of Riverside Glen. Mike's life has spanned three pretty distinct and different Canadian cities: born and raised in Montreal, Mike moved his family to Mississauga in the 80s following his import-export job, and then moved them family to Fergus, where he went on to own and operate a coffee shop. Today we talk about these three cities' respective night-lives, and Mike's experience navigating living through a pandemic, while balancing Diabetes and Muscular Dystrophy (all while maintaining his sense of humour and love of potato chips). Thank you so much to Mike for sharing your story!

Nov 11, 2020 Bridging The Social Distance Listen

For this episode I interview Eileen Webb, a resident at The Village of Riverside Glen. We talk about her life - growing up in Burlington when it was just a small town, her family's "Lakeside Dairy", the fun of pouring over the Eaton's Catalogue and gathering around the family radio for the Lone Ranger, and later raising a family on a 100-acre farm in Badenoch (including a period of time with no electricity), and attending the Women's Institute. She has a solid attitude of accepting what life sends her way, and it's helpful for navigating this pandemic too. Thank you Eileen for sharing!

Nov 11, 2020 Bridging The Social Distance Listen

For this episode I interview Kay Mighton, also known as cook book author "Kay Spicer". Kay lives in Long-Term Care at The Village of Riverside Glen, and today we talk all about cooking, the craft of creating cookbooks, and Kay's career and education in cooking. She's a delightful guest, and we hope we get to try her cookies someday!

Nov 11, 2020 Bridging The Social Distance Listen

For this episode I interview David Boyd, a 97 year-old resident in Long-Term Care at The Village of Riverside Glen, and author of "Mighty Mouth's Crap Book". David grew up in Norval Ontario. He shares lots of incredible stories today - he fought in WWII, working in radar, locating safe places for Paratroopers to land. After the war he took a summer job installing radar in ships in Halifax. He had several more jobs before he decided to buy horses - when his father had retired and decided to move to B.C., David drove him and his belongings out in a trailer, and returned with horses, one of which was retired from a Hollywood movie. He's lived quite a life, and the pandemic's been difficult, but David has kept his sense of humour and we appreciate him sharing his stories with us.

Nov 11, 2020 Bridging The Social Distance Listen 

For this episode, my guest is Tom Baker, a resident at The Village of Riverside Glen. Tom is an inspiring person to talk to about health, healing, and recovery - he's lived through several bouts of cancer and heart attacks, including one only a few weeks back. And while it's not ideal to have major health scares during a pandemic, he has a sense of humour and disposition to get himself through it, and today he talks about that, and stories from growing up in Toronto and Montreal. At the end of the episode you'll hear two very short "mini-interviews" recorded during a Project Serve workshop, as part of a new series CFRU is developing. Tune in!

Nov 11, 2020 Bridging The Social Distance Listen                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

For this episode I interview Elizabeth Hurlbut, a resident in Long-Term Care at The Village of Riverside Glen. When quarantine measures hit, Elizabeth - who has several chronic health conditions - had to make the difficult decision to leave her part time job in order to protect her health and the health of her fellow residents. The pause is difficult, and puts the breaks on her hopes of transitioning back to independent living. But it gives her time for her graphic arts, and she's nearly finished her illustrated dictionary of American Sign Language. Elizabeth is good at finding the humour in difficult situations, and knows a heck of a lot about ASL, and both of these come out in our chat today. Thank you Elizabeth for sharing!

October 6, 2020 Bridging The Social Distance Listen

For this episode I interview Jake Klassen, a resident at The Village of Riverside Glen. Jake moved in to Riverside Glen during the pandemic, and because of a subsequent quarantine was stuck in his room for 28 days. So he's very excited to get back outside! Tune in today for his story, of growing up in Dundurn Saskatewan, farming as a conscientious objector during the war, spending his winters building his own farming machinery, and decades later, an inspiring career shift to teaching. Thank you Jake for sharing your story!


September 3, 2020 Bridging The Social Distance Listen

An interview with Frances Hansplant, a resident who lives in Long-Term Care at The Village of riverside Glen. Frances shares stories about her life - her various jobs (including helping with courses hosted on the CBC), her husband John who was an artist, and her travels across this country. There are some tears in this episode, Frances shares some hard memories. It's very beautiful, and I’m thankful to Frances for sharing her story.

August 31, 2020 Bridging The Social Distance Listen

An interview with Christine Hames (a kinesiologist and director of the Program for Active Living at Schlegel Villages) and Ally Haffner (a kinesiologist in Long Term Care at the Village of Riverside Glen) and we discuss “PAL” the Program for Active Living. The PAL team is a unique collaboration between the three disciplines of kinesiology, physiotherapy and occupational therapy.  This team conducts assessments in areas of balance, range of motion, mobility, muscle strength and fine motor skills.  Based on a holistic approach involving resident and family, an individualized program is developed for each resident to maintain and improve their level of independence.” Today we discuss this program, and navigating physical health and exercise during a pandemic.


August 28, 2020 Bridging The Social Distance Listen

An interview with Mary Parker, a resident at The Village of Riverside Glen.  Mary is such a delight, so sweet, so funny, and opens up in the biggest way.  Mary was born in Cape Breton, and was fostered to a family to help out at a farm.  In later years she gave birth to nine children, aspiring to create the family connection she was missing in her youth.  Listeners to this episode should prepare emotionally - Mary shares some heartbreaking realities alongside her happy stories.  It means so much to have her honesty and perspective, and it’s worth tearing up for the beauty that is her story!  


August 26, 2020 Bridging The Social Distance Listen

An interview with Barbara James, a resident at the Village of Riverside Glen.  Barbara is another new resident who moved during this pandemic, arriving straight from a hospital, and subsequently has had a lot of quarantining.  And she admits it would be nice to get to meet some people and make some new friends.  But despite this, she’s kept a fantastic disposition, and laughs her way through stories of her youth in Vancouver, her children, her love for her late husband, and the love she found for Guelph.  Thank you Barbara for sharing your stor

August 21,2020 Bridging The Social Distance Listen

This episode is a very moving conversation with Don at The Village of Riverside Glen.  Don and his wife have been married for 68 years, She lives in Long-Term Care, and Don's in retirement, so they haven't been able to be together for long stretches of this pandemic.  His wife has been a huge support for him during his life, sticking with him through his struggles with alcoholism - struggles, which, before this interview, he never shared outside of AA (Alcoholics Anonymous).

His wife stayed by his side and with the support of AA he changed from the person that he was, to a person that wanted to help other people, and this is what he’s done over the years.  Don shares that when he was drinking he couldn’t see anything, or appreciate anything - when he stopped, he could see the wonders of the world.  All of this has given him an incredible perspective to carry through this pandemic and it means so much that he has shared this story with us.

August 19,2020 Bridging The Social Distance Listen

An interview with Glenna Duff, a resident in Long-Term Care at The Village of Riverside Glen. Glenna came to Ontario from Saskatchewan in 1932 with her family when she was three years old, in a Ford Car, with their dog riding on the running board :) She was born in Rockglen Saskatchewan, which is where she got her name. She's anxious to get to spend time out of her room again, to see her family, and to sing with the Glen's "Songbirds" choir. But she's keeping busy with word puzzles, and her time as an Occupational Therapist has given her an extra appreciation for the staff in Long Term Care, and their efforts in keeping everyone safe.

August 18,2020 Bridging The Social Distance Listen 

An interview with Kim Boyes, Long-Term Care Neighbourhood Coordinator at The Village at University Gates, and Hilda Melbourne, a Housekeeping Aide in the Emma Dementia Care Neighbourhood at The Village of Riverside Glen, who are two of Schlegel Villages' “CONNECT the Dots” Program facilitators and educators. CONNECT The Dots is a program that has been developed to make sure residents in care facilities are receiving individual, person-centred care. It operates with the credo:

KNOW ME- as a unique human being
BE PRESENT- in all communications
WALK IN MY SHOES- try to understand how I feel
EARN TRUST- be clear, genuine & transparent
FOLLOW THROUGH- all the way

Today we talk about this program, and the way it has shaped Hilda and Kim's relationships with the residents they support in their respective facilities, and the value this type of meaningful care can have for anyone, not just seniors retirement residences.

August 17, 2020 | Bridging the Social Distance Listen

Interview with Joyce Kelterborn, a resident at The Village of Riverside Glen.  Joyce is another senior who moved into the residence during the pandemic - after a stretch of time in the hospital, she faced a health reality that didn't leave remaining at home an option.  Joyce shares how hard it is to move into one of these facilities when it isn’t your own choice.  Her attitude towards adjusting to retirement living is a philosophy that can be handy to consider during this time of a pandemic as well - "It’s not what you had, it’s not maybe what you want, but it’s what you have to put up with in order to survive."  She’s starting to integrate and feel more comfortable, and the supportive staff are a huge help.

August 13, 2020 | Bridging the Social Distance Listen

Interview with Nancy Calverley, a resident at The Village of Riverside Glen - and Nancy has lots of stories! Born in Scotland, fostered during the war, and surviving several family hardships after moving to Canada as a young married woman, Nancy has strength and perspective - she marvels at how far the medical world has come since her youth, and while she doesn't love being quarantined during this pandemic, she does see it as an opportunity to use technology to learn about other countries and cultures. 

August 12, 2020 | Bridging the Social Distance Listen

Interview with Pacifico “Puss” Valeriote, a 100 year old resident at The Village of Riverside Glen, born and raised here in Guelph. At 100 years, Pacifico remains a wonderful and charming storyteller - his memory weaves through time, with stories from Alice Street in the Ward, his family’s General Store, and his time in the war, right up to the present where he reflects on the pandemic, and narrates the watching of construction workers in the rain. Pacifico at one point says “I just go with the flow - and sometimes I can’t find flow” - and it’s kind of a perfect metaphor.


August 6, 2020 | Bridging the Social Distance Listen

Interview with Yvonne Boyles, another new resident at The Village of Riverside Glen. Yvonne, like a lot of the show's recent guests, moved to the village during the pandemic, but not from too far away, just a condo across the road, and before that a whole lifetime spent in Guelph. In fact, Jenny and Yvonne were pretty much neighbours, venturing to a lot of the same places, about fifty years apart. Yvonne shares some moving stories from her past, sharing stories about family life, her cat, and transitioning to living at Riverside Glen. 



August 5, 2020 | Bridging the Social Distance Listen
Interview with Mary Haggarty and Katherine Finlay at The Village of Riverside Glen about the "Java Music Club" - one of Riverside Glen's signature programs. Mary is the program facilitator of this club at Riverside Glen, and Katherine is a participant, and today they talk about the value this program has, and the infrastructure of support it helps the participants of the club provide for each other as they navigate the very real emotional challenges of transitioning into a senior-care stage of their lives.


July 30, 2020 | Bridging the Social Distance Listen
Interview Geoff Royston over at The Village of Riverside Glen. Today Geoff takes us on a trip through his life, his various adventures with airplanes, and his career that spans toolmaking, teaching, and even working on the Avro Arrow. He's a heck of a guy, and at 98 years old there's a lot of wonderful history to share. 


July 28, 2020 | Bridging the Social Distance Listen
Interview with Wesley Anderson at The Village of Riverside Glen. Wes grew up in Jamaica, and worked as a pharmacist before beginning a career as a teacher here in Canada. We talk about his past, and about this pandemic - about the current challenges around navigating school and remote learning, and our shared desire for a vaccine. 


July 24, 2020 | Bridging the Social Distance Listen
This episode explores the topic of supporting people living with dementia, and how we can adapt to the additional challenges presented by this global pandemic. For this conversation I interview Heather Luth, Dementia Program specialist for Schlegel Villages, and Tara Rosenow, who is the Neighbourhood Coordinator for the "Emma Neighbourhood" - the memory care wing of The Village of Riverside Glen. 


July 23, 2020 | Bridging the Social Distance | Listen
Interview with Frances Poirier, another new resident at The Village of Riverside Glen. Frances was born and raised in Middleport, went to school in Brantford, and helped out at her family's General Store in Onondaga. Later as she was raising a family, she took over the General Store once more, and she was hard working woman, as the General Store offered a bit of everything - she was the butcher, the grocer, and the gas station attendant.  



July 21, 2020 | Bridging the Social Distance | Listen
June MacMillan was a teacher in Mount Forest for ten years before switching modes to parenting and working her family’s dairy farm. She had been living in a retirement facility in Maryhill when the pandemic led to that space closing, and June having to re-locate. It’s a special challenge to move during a pandemic, to a new home with so many new people, and especially when meeting those new people is limited in terms of the times and spaces you can do it in, but June has the best attitude - she actively engages in activities and still finds a way to continue her love of walking (while still staying on the premises), and she has set out to learn a new name every day.


July 16, 2020 | Bridging the Social Distance | Listen  
Jenny interviews Sarah Pottier, Chair of the PSW and Supportive Care Program with Conestoga College, and Hubrecht Quist, Director of Nursing at the Village of Riverside Glen. Talking about the Personal Support Worker Education program at Conestoga, and more specifically the "Living Classroom" - an immersive learning experience where students learn to be PSWs working directly with residents at Riverside Glen. 


July 14, 2020 | Bridging the Social Distance | Listen
Interview with resident Beth Leach. At age eleven, the war pushed her family out of China, and to the United State's via India, and upon arriving by boat, her and her mother were not initially allowed onto US soil. Despite these set backs, Beth has lived a rich life, traveling and studying around the world.


July 10, 2020 | Bridging the Social Distance | Listen
Interview with Heather Culford, a Guelph resident who's mother resides in the Emma's Neighbourhood at the Village. Talking to Heather for this episode highlights another experience - when a loved one's memory, creates the sense that these visits may not have happened at all. That was a big concern of Heather's, but she is discovering that there's another side to this too - in some cases, memories and realities blend, and they may even feel like they're being visited all the time, by people from throughout their life, not limited by time or space. Some of these seniors remain oblivious to the severity of our global pandemic. It's a complicated and heavy perspective to consider, but there are lots of beautiful and unique aspects within it. Thank you so much to Heather for sharing.


July 9, 2020 | Bridging the Social Distance | Listen
An absolutely delightful guest, Tony Ferraro, a resident at The Village of Riverside Glen. Tony's stories of old Guelph go straight to the heart - he came to Canada as an Italian immigrant, lived in the ward, and worked and met his wife at Biltmore Hats. He became the most devoted husband, determined she would never want for anything, even traveling to her area of Riverside Glen when they lived in separate parts of the building, to help her with her meals. Since her recent passing, he's only wore shirts with breast pockets, so he can carry a photo of her at all times. He's such a special fellow. 


July 7, 2020 | Bridging the Social Distance | Listen
Janet and Larry Hamilton, a couple residing at the Village of Riverside Glen. Being a couple in close quarters in quarantine is bound to test the patience of anyone, but having been together for 58 years, and with experience sharing small spaces on cruise ships when they've traveled the world, these two have things figured out, and are in good spirits. When the quarantine's over they're looking forward to getting to see their family for closer visits, the return of country drives, and a trip to see the final construction of their son's cottage.


July 3, 2020 | Bridging the Social Distance | Listen
nterview with Jack Stevenson, a retired cattle farmer. Jack is honestly just the sweetest, and Jenny's insatiable curiosity leads to this being a decidedly informative episode. Jack used to have his own cattle farm, and simultaneously worked with cows at the University of Guelph, and therefore is no stranger to the importance of quarantine to prevent outbreaks. He brings such a good disposition to these trying times, and it was a real treat to talk to him.


July 1, 2020 | Bridging the Social Distance | Listen
Marlene Lehman is a bright light in a time of increased isolation. She keeps her eyes and heart open for fellow residents who may need a friendly ear, and despite the time in quarantine, has found a myriad of activities to get her through. When she couldn't attend mass in person, she used the internet to digitally travel to masses around the world. When a museum exhibit about the liberation of Holland that she was planning to contribute to got delayed, she spent more time with the artifacts and the memories, learning things about her father that she hadn't known before. 


June 30, 2020 | Bridging the Social Distance | Listen
Interview with Brad Lawrence at The Village of Winston Park, and Kadri Phillips at The Village of Riverside Glen, about the past and present of "Pride" at their respective retirement facilities. This was a deeply interesting conversation: on the surface, it may seem like a simple act to hang a rainbow/pride flag in a retirement centre, but in reality Brad set out to start that process in 2017, and has only this year succeeded in raising it. Riverside Glen is following Brad's example, and are having Pride celebrations for the first time just this year.


June 26, 2020 | Bridging the Social Distance | Listen
Colleen Fawcett has been working as an RPN at The Village of Riverside Glen for ten years. During that time she's seen many outbreaks and illnesses, but nothing on this scale of a Global Pandemic. There are many challenges: keeping everyone safe and in good spirits, showing positivity to residents while wearing a mask, balancing long work days and added tasks, and especially trying to relay information to loved ones when they're not allowed to visit in person.


June 25, 2020 | Bridging the Social Distance | Listen
Joan takes us on a local trip down memory lane. Jenny reached Joan at her home at The Village of Riverside Glen on Joan's 89th birthday, and even though it was Joan's birthday, her story was the gift given to us: born and raised in Guelph, and nostalgic about all things old-Guelph, this interview will go straight to the heart of anyone who loves this city.


June 23 | Bridging the Social Distance | Listen
Jenny interviews Norm Jary, former Mayor of the City of Guelph, and broadcaster for CJOY. At 91 years of age, Norm has done an incredible job keeping himself educated about Covid 19, and is taking every precaution, deeply appreciating the steps Riverside Glen has taken to protect its residents. We talk about this, and about his life - Norm is very proud of holding the longest term of mayor in Guelph's history, and shares several standout highlights from that career, from his marriage, and from his time as a radio broadcaster.


Doug Gilmour shares his story from the green bench #ElderWisdomJune 18, 2020 | Bridging the Social Distance | Listen
Resident Doug A Gilmour has written a book chronicling his life, called "A Successful Life: Overcoming Adversity with Persistence", and based on this interview it sounds like he has done just that. Sometimes going through difficult situations gives you a perspective on what's possible - which is an inspiring concept to lean into during a global pandemic.


June 9, 2020 | Bridging the Social Distance | Listen
Lloyd moved into The Village the day before they went into total quarantine. From the inside, Lloyd has experienced nothing but positivity and support and care from the staff. On his own, prior to the pandemic, taking care of himself had become a struggle, and he feels he is far safer where he is now. Inspired by the stories of his fellow seniors, and the hard work of the front line-essential workers, Lloyd was disheartened that every story he saw of seniors' centres portrayed in the news has been one of fear, illness and isolation.