A Good Home, Canadian Women, Wonderful Women

Wonderful Women

I know some wonderful women whose names you’ve likely never heard.

They aren’t famous.  But each has done something special to help others in her community.

Blog Photo -- Mr and Mrs. Claus - Eddie Grant Photo
Photo thanks to Eddie Grant

Raphaelita Walker was the wonderful Mrs. Claus, a role she performed at the Jamaican Canadian Association in Toronto every Christmas for more than 40 years. (Her husband Gifford was Santa Claus.)

The children loved her. Adults loved her. Being Mrs. Claus was just one of Raph’s contributions to her community.

Raph celebrated her 90th birthday in December. She died on Valentine’s Day. 

Thank you, dear Raph, for all you’ve done, for so many.

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The other women are members of my church community.

Book Photo At Launch with Jane

Jane Carson, a retired teacher, musician and painter, has attended St. Thomas’ church for decades. She’s done much to help families here and abroad – particularly families with small children. But Jane’s most quiet ongoing ‘ministry’ is sending cards and letters to people who she thinks need to be cheered up. Thank you, Jane.

Blog Photo - Olive Ormiston who knits prayer shawls

Olive Ormiston makes prayer shawls. She’s one of the main knitters at St. Thomas’ Anglican. They create the shawls for those going through a tough time: personal or family illness, bereavement, and other times that test one’s soul. 

Every shawl is blessed by St. Thomas’ Anglican’s priest, Canon Claire Wade. Claire herself is a woman of wisdom and great strength.

Blog Photo - Canon Claire blesses prayer Shawl
Photo by Hamlin Grange

Joanne Schuetzl helps to distribute the shawls. Having survived some scary health challenges herself, Joanne keeps an eye out for others in the community who may need a prayer shawl, and gently approaches them.

Blog Photo - Cynthia and Joanne
Joanne and Cynthia at Wedding

Hooray for these women and other stars in our communities!

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A Good Home, Adopted HOme, Canadian life, Home

Living One’s Beliefs

It’s such an anxious time in the world right now. To help calm my nerves, I’ve been reading about the teachings of Buddha and Jesus.

I’m not sure this was a good move.

Self-sacrifice was a key tenet of their teachings– they demanded it of themselves and of those who wanted to follow them.

 

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So far, I’ve concluded that if most of us today did exactly what the Buddha directed, we’d be laughed out of town. And if we behaved as Jesus did, we’d be crucified.  

Metaphorically speaking, of course.  

Jesus was a revolutionary. The person whose birth we mark at Christmas didn’t give a hoot about people’s social standing or how much money they had. He valued their faith and actions, not their status.

He called out the rich, powerful and comfortable, lambasted the uncaring and the corrupt. He looked out for children, the sick and disabled.  He welcomed outsiders. 

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We Canadians have welcomed roughly 40, 000 homeless refugees in the last year. Some worry that in our zeal to provide a home to these vulnerable outsiders, Canadians risk our own safety or finances.  Do I understand that fear? Yes, indeed.

A friend of mine spoke passionately about his fears of Syrian refugees one week – and found himself sponsoring a refugee family the next.  He’d reflected on his fears and decided to live up to his own Christian values instead.

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Canada is a mostly Christian country, but I’m no expert on Christianity. Nor, judging by the New Testament gospel, am I even close to being a true Christian.  But I keep thinking about what Jesus might have said about welcoming refugees.

Perhaps he’d say something about acting on faith, not fear. About reflecting on our own privileges and comforts. And about helping the vulnerable by making room at the inn.

~~

Dedicated to people of all nations who are welcoming refugees to their homes and communities.

A Good Home, Bond Head Harbour, Country Homes, Frederick Farncomb, John Farncomb, St. George's Anglican Church in Newcastle Ontario, The Farncombs of Bond Head

The Farncombs of Ebor House – Pt 3 in the Ebor House series

For a moment, I’d forgotten that I was lost.

Questions flew through my mind as I sat in my car, gawking at a huge house on a country road.

“Who would have built such a grand home?” I wondered.

Blog Photo - Ebor House

Frederick Farncomb would have.

And he did.

**

1867 was a great year. After years of debate, Canada’s separate parts became one country under God and queen.

Robert Harris painting, via wikipedia
Robert Harris painting, via wikipedia

East, west, north and south.

Former adversaries. Aboriginal, French and English. Different languages. Different back-stories.  Different customs and beliefs.

Starting in 1867, confederation brought these parts together under one national ‘roof’.

And the glory of that moment inspired many Canadians to reach higher, dream bigger.

Some of Canada’s finest residences were built in the period just before, during and after 1867.

Ravenscrag Photo Built in 1860's

Shaughnessy House in Montreal

At the Bond Head Harbour, east of Toronto,  a customs officer named Frederick Farncomb had ambitions for a roof of his own. But not just any roof.

Orphaned at 7 years of age, Frederick left England for Canada as a young man. He married Jane Robson, also of British background.  Together they had 7 children.

Blog Photo - Ebor House and Bond Head harbour

Bond Head Harbour (also called Port Newcastle) thrived,  as ships plied their trade with various cities in North America.

Cargoes of wheat, oats, flour and lumber sailed across Lake Ontario.

Frederick’s uncle Thomas Farncomb, the wealthy Lord Mayor of London, England, was also a merchant and ship owner. After he died (in 1865) Frederick inherited a large amount of money from his estate. In 1867, Frederick hired a Toronto architect to design a house for his large family on land he already owned and within 18 months, the 17-room house was completed.

Blog Photo - Ebor House Entrance and Stairs

Some of the furniture was from Jacques & Hay, who made furniture for Canada’s wealthiest citizens and even royalty.

Blog Photo - Ebor House Dining Room full

York, England, had special significance for the Farncomb family and they called their home Ebor House. In Latin, “Ebor” means “York”.

Blog Photo - Ebor House Gates

Frederick was influential in his community and church.  When local Anglicans built St. George’s Church, Newcastle, (just up the road from Bond Head) it was “patterned from a church near Leeds, England, the old parish church of Frederick Farncomb, a member of the building committee and an avid supporter of the new church.

Blog Photo - Ebor House and Church Entrance

“When the design was accepted and the building commenced, money was raised from far and near. Even the Lord Mayor of London, Mr. Farncomb’s uncle, contributed generously to the fund.”

Blog Photo - Ebor House and Church Steeple

Blog Photo - Ebor House and Wide shot of Church

The Farncombs were undoubtedly one of the most prominent families in the Bond Head-Newcastle area.  When son Alfred  became a doctor  and John became “Reverend Canon John Farncomb” at St. George’s Church, their influence grew even more.

Blog Photo - Ebor House Living Room

One of the biggest symbols of the Farncombs’ success was their beautiful lakeside home. With its stately rooms and beautiful grounds, Ebor House was the perfect setting for family weddings, dinner parties, picnics and important social events.

**

Next: Joyful Times at Ebor House.