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Couple bequeaths $300,000 to help build new PCH

Emily Distefano

The new personal care home project in Carman has yet to gain provincial approval, but that hasn’t stopped residents like the late George and Mary Stevenson from bequeathing a legacy for the new build. Above, Mona Brown, lawyer for the estate, Art Cameron, executor, and Kelvin Smith, Boyne Care Holdings representative, shared the news of the donation. (EMILY DISTEFANO)

The new personal care home project in Carman has yet to gain provincial approval, but that hasn’t stopped residents like the late George and Mary Stevenson from bequeathing a legacy for the new build. Above, Mona Brown, lawyer for the estate, Art Cameron, executor, and Kelvin Smith, Boyne Care Holdings representative, shared the news of the donation. (EMILY DISTEFANO)

A Miami Man. couple has left a legacy of giving with a significant bequest meant to help make the proposed new Carman-area personal care home a reality.

George and Mary Stevenson bequeathed over $300,000 to Boyne Care Holdings for the new build proposal.

“My understanding is Mary was in the [Boyne] Lodge for about seven years, and George just so appreciated the care she got,” said Mona Brown, lawyer for the estate. “And he was very interested in Boyne Care Holdings and the new build and how that would carry it on for generations to come.”

Mary passed away in 2016 at the age of 91; George passed away earlier this year at the age of 89. Both spent their last days in the Boyne Lodge in Carman.

Over the past few years, the Town of Carman, along with the RMs of Dufferin, Thompson, Roland and Grey, have been working to build a replacement for the aging facility.

Built in the 1960s, the Lodge was originally meant to be a hostel for the elderly, and wasn’t designed to provide the level of care required by a personal care home. Plus, its infrastructure is outdated and BCH is particularly concerned about shared bedrooms and shared washrooms.

The group hopes to build a new personal care home close to the same location as the Boyne Lodge, following an aging-in-place model that would eventually include assisted and supported living spaces The current Boyne Lodge building may be used to house seniors waiting for placement, instead of letting them wait in a hospital bed.

The Stevensons hoped to be part of making the project happen. George left half of the residue of their estate to Boyne Care Holdings for the new construction, while the other half of the residue is going to the Winnipeg Foundation for the St. Boniface Research Hospital Fund. There is also a specific Word Wildlife Federation donation of $25,000.

When all the numbers are crunched, the BCH donation is expected to be in excess of $300,000.

The couple’s nephew, Arthur Cameron, is the executor of their estate.

He noted that the family has deep roots in the area. Robert Stevenson - George’s grandfather - filed his homestead claim in the area in 1873.

“The Stevenson family were the first settlers in the Thompson municipality,” said Cameron.

George was born in 1928. He and Mary operated the family farm for many years. In retirement, the couple moved to a condo in Carman.

“My uncle farmed all his life, was also an avid hunter and fisherman,” said Cameron, who added that Mary matched George’s enthusiasm for the sport. “They probably fished on every lake in Manitoba.

“All the people that knew them knew what they were about,” he said. “They enjoyed their life in Miami and they certainly enjoyed their life at Bradford Estates. They had a great will to live and travel and do everything.”

Brown said George and Mary were happy to be able to leave a legacy that would give back to both Miami and Carman.

“These were such lovely people who cared about their community and their fellow man, their fellow person,” she said. “They really were caring, loving people who thought about giving back to their community.

“I think Mr. Stevenson, in leaving to Boyne Care Holdings, felt he was benefiting the Miami area,” added Brown. “He was very excited about the new build. He thought it was necessary and . . . he thought that was something that he was sure Mary would want him to do.”

Boyne Care Holdings delivered their building plan to the province some time ago, and the group is still waiting for a response.

The chairman of the Planning and Development Committee for Boyne Care Holdings, Kelvin Smith, said they remain hopeful that they will receive a positive response.

“The Manitoba Health minister has it on his desk and that’s all we really know,” said Smith. “The good news is they haven’t slashed the project. We’re still fairly optimistic.”

If and when Boyne Care Holdings does obtain provincial approval, the group is ready to commission a building design and start a fundraising campaign.

But even without approval, it is clear that members of the community have already started to give - unasked - to the project.

Including this donation, Smith said around $700,000 has been donated toward the new PCH so far.

Smith said it is encouraging to see the community take the lead in philanthropic giving even before any active fundraising has taken place.

“Certainly from a Boyne Care Holdings perspective, philanthropy is going to be a big part of our project and our budget,” said Smith.

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edistefano@postmedia.com