Three local Dundas Country agencies, Linking Hands, the J.W. MacIntosh Seniors Support Centre and the Dundas County Food Bank were all recipients of 2012 grants from the John Stewart Estate Memorial Trust Fund. The money is investment income derived from the 1991 sale of the John Stewart Home in Cornwall. Representative Adele Eyman said the board looked at the “sustainability of each organization, as well as the numbers of people it served” in determining recipients. These Dundas groups “are all good neighbours in their communities,” she added, presenting the checks on Saturday, March 10, at the Seniors Support Centre in Williamsburg. Linking Hands will use its $400 to continue to develop its Lunch and Learn program through the House of Lazarus. The Dundas County Food Bank will use the grant of $1,166 to help “keep stocking our shelves with healthy food,” said Food Bank administrator Donna Quesnel. Janet Levere, executive director of the J.W. MacIntosh Senior Support Centre hopes to use the $400 grant towards subsidizing vital transportation costs. Pictured (l-r) are Nancy Christie of the House of Lazarus, Janet Levere, Adele Eyman, Alvin Runnalls, chair of the Dundas County Food Bank and Donna Quesnel.
When the 156 women who were part of 100 Women Who Care About South Dundas came together last Thursday night, May 7 at the Upper Canada Playhouse, they came together to select three of a proposed 10 local charities/organizations to receive their donations of $100 per woman or $15,600.
They were also delighted to learn that they had been joined by the Scotiabank, Morrisburg’s Community Matching Fund program which brought their donation to $20,000.
Receiving the top vote in the 100 Women Who Care About South Dundas first-time initiative, and a $10,000 donation, was the Dundas County Hospice, headquartered in Williamsburg. Hospice serves residents of Dundas County who have been diagnosed with terminal illness. It provides the terminally ill and their families various in-home services and programs designed to help them remain at home as long as possible.
Recently, Hospice, which operates out of the J.W. MacIntosh Support Centre, purchased a home in Williamsburg. In addition to providing space for its head office, the home will be a welcoming space for the Hospice day program which provides clients time away from homes and their caregivers.
The second place donation of $6,000 went to the J.W. MacIntosh Senior Support Centre in Williamsburg, and third place and $4,000 was donated to the South Dundas Splash Pad project at the Children’s Park in Morrisburg.
Each of the 10 organizations nominated were in attendance to market their proposal before the voting.
They included St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage, South Dundas Youth Centre, The Dundas County Food Bank, MacIntosh Seniors Support Centre, WDMH Foundation, Optimists Club, Dundas County Community Living, Dundas County Hospice, The Carman House Museum and The Splash Pad.
After the women completed their first round vote the top three (this year four because there was a tie) organizations were given the opportunity to speak on their organization’s project.
In making his presentation to the assembled women, Hospice Board Chair, Bob Pitruniak, said “I think the 100 Women idea is terrific and regardless of who you choose, all the people of South Dundas are going to benefit.”
In addition to explaining the work of Dundas County Hospice, he told the group of the recent purchase of the home in Williamsburg. “We need a new furnace, we need central air, we need a new water heater and we need kitchen appliances. That is our project.”
MacIntosh Senior Support Centre, executive director Janet Levere explained the Centre has been supporting seniors in the community for over 24 years. She said the Centre’s project will be to provide financial help to local seniors. “Perhaps to help them pay for their Meals on Wheels or to help them with their heat bill. Whatever is needed to allow them to stay in their homes.”
Levere said the Centre planned to form a committee that would review the client needs and disburse the money up to $500 per eligible senior in need.
“We feel honoured to be here tonight, and we will use the funds to directly impact the lives of our clients,” she said.
Rosemary Laurin spoke on behalf of the Splash Pad Committee.
“I think this is a great way to get people talking and thinking of things in our community,” said Laurin on behalf of the Splash Pad Committee. Laurin reported the South Dundas community has now raised $173,000 of the $200,000 and if they were to win, the donation would help them to reach their goal.
Dundas County Food Bank secretary Celeste Guse, said the “municipality [South Dundas] has been giving us the facility since the beginning.” She spoke of the upcoming move to the Morrisburg arena and the municipality’s continued generosity in bringing the new location up to code at their expense and fronting an interest free loan of $56,000.
“The one thing we are asking 100 Women to help with is the cost of a loading door and separate entrance for the volunteers. The doors cost $12,500, and we are asking you to help us fund them. We are hoping we can put a plaque on the door that says ‘100 women of South Dundas provided this door’.”
From rags to riches, that is the Cinderella story for homes that come under the hand of Gerry Zeran owner of Zeran Builders & Wood Specialties Ltd. from Long Sault.
And that is the story that is currently being written for the home of the late Fred and Yvonne Veley at 44 Laurier Drive in Morrisburg.
Zeran has been in the building industry since 1977. “I built new houses for years and did renovations,” he says explaining that his current work involves the concept “Cinderella House Renovation” for which he takes the ugly and makes it into something beautiful. He selects only Seaway houses, meaning houses that were moved in the 1950’s for the Seaway expansion and dropped onto new foundations.
Zeran says that working on these older homes or any older home for that matter is “kind of a niche. A lot of guys don’t like doing it. It’s dirty work. New construction work is a lot cleaner so a lot of builders like that.”
When Zeran looks at a house, along with the cost, he is looking at its potential, the structure of the building, and whether it is solid and worth putting money into.”
The Veley house fit his criteria and in addition, “it had a fairly new roof, new furnace, new water tank and it was across from the golf course here.”
And with all that going for it, 44 Laurier Drive became the sixth Cinderella House Renovation for Zeran and his crew.
One added bonus, for the Morrisburg project, is that Zeran has a lot of old time friends in the community that he made during his days of playing Junior B Hockey with the Lions under coach John Rice. In fact, Billy Veley, son of the late Fred and Yvonne Veley, was a teammate.
“Billy’s been here and has gone through the house. He can’t believe what we are doing. His sister, Joanne, though has decided to come and see it when it is completely done.”
A defenceman with the Lions in early 1970’s, Zeran says he has halted his work a number of times to chat with some of his former teammates.
The project began on April 1, and the completion date is the end of July when an open house will be held.
The two-storey home was completely gutted, even the upstairs flooring was removed in order to level it. Along the way, says Zeran, there were some great finds.
They included a druggist bottle with the name of Morrisburg druggist Levi F. Selleck on it, other assorted bottles and “The Voice” a monthly magazine dated 1882. A wooden sap tap and a wooden tool (unsure of its use) were also uncovered.
All of the walls were exposed and opened in early April, and it was discovered that there were a total of six doors, two were in use and the others had been covered over.
Zeran says he receives support from the neighbours in the areas of his “Cinderellas.” His first was in Cornwall in 1991. His favorite is the home in Ingleside that was relocated from Dickinson’s Landing. “I get a lot of support when the neighbours see that all of a sudden a house is being fixed up. It’s good for their property values,” he adds with a chuckle.
On Laurier Drive, everyone has been supportive, and in particular is backyard neighbour George “Junior” Beaupre. “George has been excellent. He’s helped us out with the home’s history and the families who have lived in it. This has been a really good community to work in.”
In addition to the actual construct, Zeran likes to put together the history of the house he is working on and has a friend who does the research. In this case, research wasn’t necessary. In fact, as Zeran was providing a tour of the house, Mr. Beaupre dropped over for his almost daily inspection.
According to Junior, the house’s original location was across from the former egg grading station in Morrisburg and belonged to the Hanson family. He locates it approximately on the corner of park land north of the Lions’ Docksyde Restaurant. “I think it was purchased from the Hanson family by Clare Van Allen who sold it to Hydro at the time of the Seaway.”
Hydro moved it to its current Laurier Drive location and rented it to a Cayer family. It was later purchased by the Veley family, who called it home for at least the last 50 years.
Zeran dates it to about 1880, but explains it is hard to date some of the Seaway houses as they are sitting on foundations put in by Hydro. He says the basement and their construction in old homes is often a helpful tool in dating a home.
Once the project commenced, the interior “was gutted right down to the studding” and the exterior layers were peeled away. “There were four exterior layers,” says Zeran. “So it had about 10 inch exterior walls with everything added to it.”
All projects on these older homes involve a lot of red tape as they don’t meet today’s building codes.
“This has been a really good community to work in,” says Zeran. “Dan Tessier, the building inspector, has been very helpful. We’ve worked on a lot of homes in other municipalities, and this is by far the best to have worked in. Nicole Sullivan, your economic officer, has also been very friendly and extremely helpful. If we could find a few more houses, we could definitely stay here. And there are certainly a lot of Seaway houses in Morrisburg.”
“Trying to marry the old with the new is not an easy job,” said Dan Tessier who was at the site for an inspection. “These guys are doing a great job. The walls will all be insulated and even the attic space is enhanced with new insulation. It’s certainly a challenge to bring an old house up to new building codes. You have to remember these old houses were built when there were no building codes. Aesthetically, I would have to say that everyone on this street should be happy with what they are doing here.
Tessier says that his work in this type of project requires some “common sense” to make it all work.
Once Zeran had the house opened up, all joists were examined and reinforced where necessary. Once all was ready, the framing was done and the Cinderella home began to take shape. Gone are the three bedrooms upstairs which required walking through each to get to the other and to the washroom.
The upstairs now has a master to the front overlooking the golf course, a central bathroom with a new dormer window, a walk-in common closet and two small bedrooms to the back of the house each with their own closet.
The main floor has an open type layout with the living room in the front and the dining and kitchen to the back. Patio doors open to a spacious back deck and bring light into the kitchen area. The front of the home has been enhanced with wrap-around porch with a newly shingled roof. All changes should be very appealing to today’s home buyers.
In the basement, furnace and laundry rooms have been framed in. All beams have been reinforced and block repair has been completed on the south wall. The sewer has been camera’ed “to make sure everything under the floor is 100 percent.”
When the project is completed the basement walls will be dry walled, but the ceiling will be left open to enable new owners access for today’s technology needs.
Although the change at 44 Laurier will certainly be dramatic, Zeran says he does not out-price the neighbourhood. Cinderella House number 6 will have a new lease on life and will continue to fit into its space on Laurier Drive.
A preliminary open house for Cinderella #6 was held Sunday, June 29, just after the dry walling had been completed. A second Open House will be held when the project has been completed at the end of July.