Wendy Elliott column: Celebrating Canada

Wendy Elliott
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It’s Canada Day, and I’m grateful, as always, for living in this safe and verdant country.

This year, I’m happy for a day off, waterslides and fireworks.

Last week, I was happy to hear that a young man from the Look Off, Matthew French, who was injured in British Columbia two years ago, is doing better. CBC reported he and his mom, Carol, were featured in a documentary about the role art and music can play in the recovery from a severe brain injury.

The new short film, Strategies of Hope, features patients and their families during treatment at the Nova Scotia Rehabilitation Centre. 

Matt, who is 23, still has a long road ahead, but Carol says the fact he is a musician has helped him get his voice and memory back.

I remember Matt backing up Laura Roy in a battle of the bands at Upper Clements Park back in 2010. His mom said, “Music is life. If you’re a musician, you’re always a musician. I guess I’d like to say that because you’ve had an acquired brain injury doesn’t mean you used to be a guitarist. Matt is a guitarist and always will be, that’s who he is, that’s part of him.”

Matt’s been on my mind since back in May, when a young Wolfville mum found an old wallet of his in a pile of stuff at the dump and run. She googled his named and found a story I’d written, then got in touch.

“I can tell it was lost before his accident, as most of the cards in it expired in 2011. No money in it or anything, but it is certainly a time capsule of what his life was like in 2010,” she told me. Hopefully, she was able to send it on its way back to him through a Canning contact.

I was kinda chuffed to see the fate of a heritage property in Wolfville back up for public debate last week – even if it was on Facebook. Charlie Wright’s stucco house on Main Street was lived in by renowned Canadian painter Alex Colville for about 25 years. It became a municipally-designated heritage property in 1987.

In June 2013, it was sold for student housing, and fortunately, a quiet couple of terms passed by. However, the issue has not been dealt with by town council, despite a request from nearby homeowners. I know of another valued heritage home right across from campus that will soon be on the market.

There are those who believe the Wright house deserves better protection as one of the town’s iconic residences. As long-established rental property owner/manager John MacKay, said the move away from a single-family home could be devastating for such an important piece of architecture in Wolfville.

Of course, in a democracy, we can have an ove- supply of student housing in the community. Various developers were in the process of adding another 124 units of rental housing a year ago and there will soon be another 70 units in the Micro Living Boutique Lego-style project. But we cannot replace our gorgeous, old houses – nor can adjacent single-family homeowners sell them to other families if there’s a boarding house next door.

My wish for Canada Day is be a plea for our unique home-grown architecture. I fear for a couple of United churches locally. Last Friday, Saint Mary’s University shocked many by demolishing the old Women’s and Infants’ Home on its Halifax campus rather than continuing discussions about what could be done to preserve that historic building.

Let’s talk some more about this issue.

 

Organizations: CBC, Nova Scotia Rehabilitation Centre, Wright house

Geographic location: Wolfville, Canada, British Columbia Upper Clements Park Saint Mary Halifax

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  • Murray Connelly Baker
    July 04, 2014 - 22:46

    You are right, Wendy, to be shocked at the fate of the Charlie Wright house. It should not be used for student housing. Brad Hopgood bought the Murray\Forbes\Connelly house. He has remodeled it with respect and good taste, for mature students; that is, those in their 3rd and 4th years. He keeps a close eye on them and on the house. We are very pleased with what he has done and is doing. The Wright\Colville house should have such a landlord.