Celebrating a milestone
At Morningside Place, Avonmore, on Fri., Sept. 8, from left are SDSG MPP Jim McDonell, Board Chair Wally Hare, former Board Chair John McIntyre, Administrator Pat Bourbonnais, Township of North Stormont Mayor Dennis Fife, and long-time custodian (22 years) Al Loynachan who posed in front of the building celebrating its 30th anniversary.      Carruthers photo

Muriel Carruthers
Record Staff
AVONMORE – In 1987, the official launch of the Morningside Place building occurred with 26 apartments, of which 20 are one-bedroom residences. By the 20th anniversary there were 105 residents. Today, the number is closing in on 200, providing mostly seniors with a chance to live independently surrounded by a caring community.

Long-time resident and historian Murray Barkley recounts the history of Morningside Place over 30 years to the audience on Sept. 8. Carruthers photo

In 2002, Avonmore, including Morningside Place, participated in a community-wide display of a record number of scarecrows – actually the world’s largest display of scarecrows, according to the Guinness Book of Records when the village displayed 3,079 scarecrows on Oct. 12, 2002. However, according to the Guiness Book’s website, since then, “the largest gathering of scarecrows in one location is 3,812, achieved by the National Forest Adventure Farm in Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire, UK, on Aug. 7, 2014.”

SDSG MPP Jim McDonell presents a provincial Certificate of recognition for the 30th anniversary of Morningside Place to Administrator Pat Bourbonnais (left) at the residence’s official anniversary party on Sept. 8, in Avonmore. Carruthers photo

Morningside Place received a best-decorated award for its IPM display of a tractor with a skeleton driver and fall foliage during the September 2015 International Plowing Match.

Another reason to celebrate for the residents of Morningside Place was its 30th anniversary in the community last Fri., Sept. 8. Residents gathered with Board members, community leaders and administrative staff to recognize the importance of this residence to the community.

Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry MPP Jim McDonell and Township of North Stormont Mayor Dennis Fife presented certificates and congratulated Administrator Pat Bourbonnais, the Board members and residents. Former Board Chair John McIntyre discussed the origins and history of the Board of Directors, and mentioned there is just five years to pay off the mortgage. The current Chair Wally Hare spoke briefly on the mission, goals and challenges of the Board’s involvement with managing the facility.

Who better to follow the latter group to give the main address to the audience about Morningside’s history and its importance to the Avonmore community than long-time resident and historian Murray Barkley. Barkley recounted numerous happenings worldwide 30 years ago from music to politics as Morningside was established and revealed humorous clips about residents who had visited his store (since sold) over the years. However, the most important message about the building, home to so many, was that “rather than an urban indifference or rural isolation” for so many seniors, this place provided independence and a sense of belonging to the community. He concluded with a message to Morningside Place residents and staff that everyone “could learn from your dignity and perseverance…real value in the heart of our community.”

A light lunch, prepared by the residents, followed the blessing and grace by Rev. Lois Gaudet of the Avonmore-Finch-Martintown Pastoral Charge. A congratulatory cake was provided by Rock’n Ronda’s Diner & Pizzeria, and shopping bags, with Morningside Place 1997-2017 monogrammed on them, were provided by the recently opened Avonmore Pharmacy, Remedy’s Rx.