Work begins on Villa expansion

Carla Allen
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Construction on the addition to Villa Saint Joseph du Lac began on Oct. 15. The activity is a source of excitement for the senior residents says administrator Rick Atkinson.

“Especially the males. It’s kind of like being a little boy for them,” he said.

“They really enjoy seeing the dump trucks and bulldozers. They’re at the windows steady. They’re over the moon at the activity. And the ladies, they’re excited because there will be something new to move into and they’ll have their own room.”

Most rooms are double in the existing facility. More privacy is just one of the improvements resulting from the estimated $17.5 million project, which involves the demolition of part of the building and construction of  what are referred to as neighbourhood wings.

The first order of business was to open up access to the 30-acre property, from the back of the building to Lakeside Road, so construction vehicles would not have to use the driveway bridge from Route 1.

The new facility will feature 79 rooms and will retain the existing great hall, chapel and turret. Old bedrooms and dining areas will be demolished.

“From the road, two thirds of the existing building will be visible,” said Atkinson.

Once residents have moved into their new bedrooms, demolition of the old section will begin.

The two-storey, 70,000 square-foot facility will have service (mechanical) penthouses located on the roof. There will be six neighbourhoods – five with 13 resident rooms and one with 14.

Each of the neighbourhoods will have direct access to an outside, secure resident garden. Three on the lower floor will have direct access to large, landscaped gardens, with a shaded patio area directly off the living room and dining room.

On the upper floor there is access to the great hall and two large roof gardens.

The gardens are in the core of the building allowing natural light into areas where it typically wouldn’t be. Raised planters will enable residents to garden.

Long, dark, corridors that are typically found in institutional buildings will be eliminated.

Completion by PCL Construction will take 24 to 30 months. The Meadows Home for Special Care on Pleasant Street was built by the same company.

The Villa was originally constructed as a hotel by the Canadian Pacific Railroad Company in the1930s. It operated as a five-star establishment until 1960.

It was then transformed into a home for the aged, founded by Sisters Melanie Lavoie, Yvonne Hubert and Claudia Toussaint. Renovations took place in the years following.


Organizations: The Meadows Home for Special Care, Canadian Pacific Railroad Company

Geographic location: Lakeside Road, Pleasant Street

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