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Inside Colonel By in Ottawa

Colonel By in Ottawa is 'home for me'

Just about any day you'll see Bessie Elliot, 87, striding along Ottawa's Rideau Canal. "I don't miss many days. I love walking," she says.

In fact, it was while walking the dog some years ago that she spotted the Colonel By Retirement Residence, and made a mental note of its location. A year or so ago, after undergoing surgery, Bessie told one of her sons it was time to move out of her condo and into Colonel By. The location fits her to a tee. "We overlook the canal," she says. "I just walk a block and then I can walk beside it for miles, or should I say kilometres."

Recently, a group of nursing students tested residents at Colonel By for their infirmities. "They couldn't find a thing wrong with me," says Bessie proudly.

"I had a very active life with my husband, who was in the military. It was a busy life. Now I decided it was time to relax. I read a lot, I have a bird feeder in the garden, which we keep filled, and I volunteer for anything that's going on. This is home to me. I have been a very lucky person."

Tomorrow, Bessie will be slipping into her Cougar rubber boots-"so comfortable for walking"-and heading out for the picturesque canal again. She's looking forward to plenty of walking yet: Her mother lived to be 97.

'The care is very good'

Flora McGrath, 86, often sees her daughter on the news. No wonder-her daughter is Maude Barlow, chairperson of The Council of Canadians. But from her home at the Colonel By Retirement Residence in Ottawa, Flora follows with equal interest the careers of her other two daughters: Christie Jefferson is on the National Parole Board, and Pat Seasey is a well-known fundraiser.

She must have been some mother. But she admits she was "pretty sick" when she came to Colonel By two years ago. "But I got better quickly. The care is very good," she says.

True to form, Flora is on the residents' council, and has made many friends-including Brooks, also 86, with whom she was in fifth grade growing up in Moncton. "Oh, you have the same eyes," Brooks said when they met at Colonel By, and reminisced about girlhood days at the beach on the Northumberland Strait.

Coming to Colonel By, says Flora, was a good move. She sees all three daughters, especially Maude, who also lives in Ottawa, "and they are all happy I am here."

Find out more about Colonel By Residence.

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