St. Paul’s Home resident Violet Thorneloe dances with Santa Claus, aka Robert Asselin, at a 2019 Christmas Party.
In 1964, St. Paul’s Rest Home in Bury began its career as a seniors’ residence, and in 1967 a corporation was formed to govern it. Over the years, the home has been a cultural icon in the Bury community, and has enjoyed a high level of volunteer support. That era will end March 31st.
The closure comes five months after it was announced in October. At the time, Marilyn Salter explained the closure was planned well in advance to give residents and their families time to find new homes. Salter is president of the St. Paul’s Corporation board of directors.
This process has now been successfully carried out, said Hervé du Verle, member of the board. “Assessments were made as needed, and all the residents have a placement now. As of March 31st, we will have no more residents.” Destinations for the seven residents include the Wales Home near Richmond, Grace Village in Lennoxville, Manoir de l’EAU VIVE in Cookshire, and the CHSLD in East Angus.
Frances Goodwin has moved to the Manoir de l’EAU VIVE in Cookshire. “I’m still in transition,” she said. “I’m not settled in yet.”
Mayotta Taylor has moved to Grace Village. “I know quite a few people here,” she said. “And my great niece is here. It’s good. Things are going on here, and the meals are very good.”
In November, a petition to save the home was signed by more than 100 persons in the Bury community. Walter Dougherty, Mayor of Bury, said the Municipality submitted it to the board of directors, along with a proposal for actions they thought might help the situation, such as improving staff salaries or benefits.
“It seemed to fall on deaf ears,” he said. “I guess it’s a done deal.” A hoped-for meeting between the municipality and the board never took place.
Concerning the petition, Salter said she welcomed the community’s support, “but we don’t have the option of finding more staff. That’s the basic situation. It’s not changing.”
Du Verle said the bottom line was that “unfortunately, nobody came looking for a job.” But more than that, he pointed out that new Quebec regulations require all residence employees to have full certification, rather than just one staff person. This is a huge problem for all homes. It is just killing the rural areas, because all the small homes will have to close; they can’t find people.”
In a December press release, du Verle wrote about the wider context of the closure. He noted that about 560 other small seniors’ residences in rural Quebec have closed since 2014. New provincial health regulations have forced these closures, but the diminishing rural population has also played a role.
He noted that provincial policies prevent them from recruiting foreign workers, and that no help for St. Paul’s was received from any level of government.
“It has been a lot of work for a lot of people who have given a lot of time,” he said. “It is absolutely distressing to close, but we had no choice.”
The corporation governing the St. Paul’s Rest Home is looking at future possibilities, du Verle said. “We believe the building will be on the market at some point. The corporation is in good shape financially, but after March 31st, we will have no more income.” He suggested one possibility would be become a trust and continue working to assist local seniors. Another would be to dissolve the corporation. “We are currently discussing the possibilities,” he said.