You're Browsing Creative Expression

Eugene Stickland and cellist Morag Northey performing at Garrison Green

Eugene Stickland and cellist Morag Northey performing at Garrison Green

Telling someone’s life story in an hour is a daunting task, but through a combination of narration and a cellist/singer who wrings an emotional performance from her instrument, a very unexpected and pleasing performance results.

As part of United’s commitment to the arts, the Garrison Green community invited cellist Morag Northey and Calgary playwright Eugene Stickland to perform. Morag is a talented performer and has countless credits to her name. She has played with the Calgary Philharmonic and taught others through her classes at Mount Royal University. This month she debuted with the Rocky Mountain Symphony Orchestra, and will perform with the Hershey Symphony this fall. In 2015 she won the Betty Mitchell Award for Outstanding Theatrical Composition.

Her lifelong love for the cello is evident in her playing. She raises a variety of sounds that complement the highs and lows of Eugene’s storytelling.

Eugene Stickland and Morag Northey rehearsing at Garrison Green

Eugene and Morag rehearsing

“I met Eugene during the production of Queen Lear, a play he had written for Joyce Doolittle for her 80th birthday in 2009. Joyce starred in the play and I played cello to punctuate her emotions,” said Morag.

She originally wrote her emotional life story as a series of concerts, but in 2016 worked with Eugene to retell her story in a much shorter, hour-long performance called 17 – When Emptiness Turns Inside Out.

“I invited Eugene to the Wells, B.C. Sunset Theatre Artist Exploration Series as my Dramaturge for a former project.  We performed a showcase at the end of the time and having Eugene’s distinctive male voice added balance to what could be a female heavy vibe. The truth is, my story belongs to all of us. 17 can be likened to the body of an iceberg where over 90% of its volume (and mass) lies underwater.”

The two of them created a polished production that combines poetry, prose, cello, song, storytelling and improvisation to relate the range of harrowing experiences Morag lived through in her early life and her various attempts to find light in the darkness. In 17, the cello, the voice and the story are equal partners in the play.

“It took us about two weeks to create the performance out of Morag’s original concert production,” said Eugene. Morag said she survived some potentially devastating atrocities and recognizes that having a balance of male and female voices is an important part of her story. “I think it was important to have a male storyteller, to create a male-female balance,” said Eugene. Balance plays an important part in the performance. The difficult emotional episodes are countered with humour, and Morag uses song and her cello to perfection to insert sound effects – whale songs, the voice of a golden eagle and a babbling brook – as exclamation points in the narrative.

17 is a musical memoir. I wrote and composed it as a suite of nine poetic pieces, each offering a glimpse into significant moments, markers or turning points that shaped my view of life and my place in it,” said Morag. “17 marks a unique genre. You could also call it a theatrical concert.”

“Life is a journey, and when you think of it in those terms, it all becomes manageable,” said Morag. “The cello pulled me through this life. It’s been with me in the worst moments alone in the dark. What I realized is that I could view this nothingness as a gift and the gift was that I had the power to choose what I would allow back in. I could choose a new life, a new way.” Her new way took her to Spain to walk the Camino de Santiago with her cello on her back. She stopped along the way to play when requested by others. Later, Morag struck out on a four-day vision quest with the help of Blackfoot elders. She came away from the experience with a renewed hope. “After everything, I am alive!”

“It’s a very courageous piece,” said Eugene, who has recently been nominated for the Order of Canada. “There are parts of her journey that we need to hear. Many women have come up to her after the performance to say that they too identify with her experiences.”

“Despite its darkness, the story reminds us that we can move on, embrace our stories, share our stories and move on together,” said Morag.

Morag Northey, left, with Joyce Doolittle and Eugene Stickland

Morag Northey, left, with Joyce Doolittle and Eugene Stickland

The performance at Garrison Green left the audience wanting more. Most were struck by how versatile the cello can be. Many stayed to ask questions. “I thought it was fantastic!” said resident Wendy Martin. “The balance between Eugene and Morag was exceptional. They played off of each other very well. And she really brought the cello to life!”

Joyce Doolittle, who won the Order of Canada for her work in theatre, has known both Eugene and Morag for many years. She was instrumental in inviting them perform at Garrison Green. “The most important thing in the work is to share your talents, ” said Joyce. “Eugene and Morag are incredible talents. You could hear the sadness and the joy throughout. It wasn’t a concert or recital, and it wasn’t a play. It was a combination of several types of performances.”

Photos and video by Sherana Productions

Why wait? Arrange a tour today! Lunch is on us!

Imagine! Flex your creative side. Fine dining. New friends. Luxurious suites. Live the lifestyle you deserve at one of our United Active Living communities. Click the button on the right to arrange a tour at Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a tour. We are happy to help! 

To learn more about life at United’s Garrison Green, watch this short video.


You're Browsing Creative Expression

Joan Clark uses words to express herself creatively. In fact, over the course of her career she has published 16 books. Along the way, she has been recognized through a number of awards for her work in helping to shape writing in Canada. In 2010, she was awarded the Order of Canada.

“As a child I was always making up stories,” said Joan. “When I was maybe five or six years old, I recall having my toys have long conversations with each other, but I really didn’t start writing in earnest until about 22.”

She was born in Liverpool, Nova Scotia and grew up in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. It was while attending Acadia University’s drama program in Wolfville, Nova Scotia that she began to write. “I was an English Major but never really wrote,” she laughs. After graduating, she published two books – in 1968 and 1971 – but she considers The Hand of Robin Squires, published in 1977 as her first novel. “My dad would talk about the mystery of Oak Island off the coast of Nova Scotia, so I set about to write a fictionalized story about the rumours of buried treasure there.”

A few of Joan's 16 published works

A few of Joan’s 16 published works

Joan lived in Edmonton for a time, where she started the literary publication, Dandelion, with another author and attended university. She also served as president of the Writer’s Guild of Alberta before returning to Atlantic Canada.

In 1988 she published The Victory of Geraldine Gull while she and her husband were living on Hudson Bay. The book was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction. A string of successful novels followed including An Audience of Chairs, a novel published in 2005 and made into a film in 2018.

“I was surprised and grateful that one of my books had been made into a film. I wrote most of the story in a cabin in Baddeck, Cape Breton,” she said. “This one was based on a relative of mine who was bipolar. She had a difficult life. To me, people are the heart of my stories.”

Joan's Order of Canada lapel pin

Joan’s Order of Canada lapel pin

In 2010, Joan was awarded the Order of Canada. In part, the award reads: “In her work with organizations such as the Literary Arts Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Public Lending Right Commission, this generous mentor has been a guiding spirit to new and established authors.”

Her latest book, The Birthday Lunch, was published in 2015. “Although I’ve written short stories (From a High Thin Wire), I’m more drawn to novels. I like the in-depth characters and the opportunity to set the mood. I haven’t written much lately, but if I find a topic that really matters to me, I might start writing again.” One of her favourite authors and literary heroes is Alice Munro. “My husband and I drove cross country to attend a lecture she was giving in Banff. I got to meet her and I was thrilled when she knew who I was and complimented me on my work!”

For Joan, character is everything in a novel. “People bring so much depth to a story.” When Joan decides to write she asks herself two questions. “Why do I want to write this, and why does it matter to me? It has to matter because so much work needs to go into it,” she said.

Joan’s husband passed away four years ago, and she made the decision to move to Calgary to be closer to her son and daughter. She chose Garrison Green, which is home to another Order of Canada winner, Joyce Doolittle.  “It’s a friendly place. Very open with lots of choices. I’m very impressed.”

While taking a break from writing, Joan has been drawn to expand her creative side. “I’ve always done some painting so I’ve started doing some work in the art studio.”

Photos and video by Sherana Productions

Why wait? Arrange a tour today! Lunch is on us!

Imagine! Flex your creative side. Fine dining. New friends. Luxurious suites. Live the lifestyle you deserve at one of our United Active Living communities. Click the button on the right to arrange a tour at Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a tour. We are happy to help! 

To learn more about life at United’s Garrison Green, watch this short video.

 


You're Browsing Creative Expression

Hertha in art studio

Hertha in art studio

Garrison Green resident Hertha Reich has been painting for more than 60 years – a fact that surprises her when she pauses to think about it.

She began painting as a young mother in Winnipeg, Manitoba. “I started with oil painting. It was smelly and messy, but oils were the only thing available at the time,” recalls Hertha. “I’ve always liked learning new things so painting attracted me.”

To keep an eye on her two young children, Hertha painted at home. Over the years, she continued to paint and attended art classes at the University of Regina, where she switched to watercolours. When her husband passed away in 2011, she moved to United’s Garrison Green to be close to her daughter, Denyce Lundeen and son Allan Reich.

“Growing up, my mom was always doing artistic things,” said Denyse. “Copper tooling, needlepoint, petit point, and of course, the painting.”

Hertha's painting, Sunset by the Lake, from 2014

Sunset by the Lake, 2014

“She painted at home for 15 years,” said son Allen. “I think it was mostly landscapes, but the quality of her work really picked up after she came here.”

Hertha moved into Garrison Green seven years ago. After getting used to her new surroundings, she started going to the art studio. “It was my haven. The teachers are always very friendly and always ready to suggest positive solutions to any problem I raised.” The studio is staffed by professional artists, and they helped Hertha improve her work. “I’ve done so many different themes,” said Hertha. “Sunsets, flowers, landscapes.” These days, if someone is looking for her, the best advice is to try the art studio first. She is almost a permanent fixture there.

“She has gone from abstract paintings to paintings that have fine detail,” said Allen. “The depth of her work has really improved. Over the years she must have done more than 100 paintings. She has inspired both of us. We’re not painters but we both love photography, so I guess her artistic side has filtered down to us.” She has also inspired other residents who might not have considered painting or other artwork before. Hertha enjoys taking part in the trips that United offers into the countryside. “Being a prairie person, I enjoy going to the mountains.”

Residents at the art showing of Hertha's workShe has become a prolific painter, continuing to use watercolours and acrylics. Some of her work lines the hallways, common rooms and the art studio. Garrison Green decided to honour that work by putting on a showing. “I was so surprised at having a show like this,” said Hertha. “I was excited to see all of my paintings set up in one place. Some of them go back several years.”

Will she continue to paint? “Oh yes!” She smiles and reflects for a moment. “I might like to change my style. I like variety, so I’ll ask the studio artists for their suggestions. You’re never too old to learn – even at 96!”

Photos and video by Sherana Productions

Why wait? Arrange a tour today! Lunch is on us!

Imagine! Flex your creative side. Fine dining. New friends. Luxurious suites. Live the lifestyle you deserve at one of our United Active Living communities. Click the button on the right to arrange a tour at Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a tour. We are happy to help! 

To learn more about life at United’s Garrison Green, watch this short video.

 


You're Browsing Creative Expression

Summer is the perfect time to get outside and enjoy the mountains, parks and gardens that Calgary has to offer.

Residents of the two United communities have a wide range of choices for getting out and about to enjoy the sunshine. The Summer Program Guides showcase the opportunities that United’s unique partnerships give residents. Music, drawing, painting, dance, pottery, sculpture and more are offered throughout the year. When you combine these with programs inspired by United’s community partners, the variety is even more impressive.

“This summer, we have a diverse selection of programs that really speaks to the variety of creative, musical and educational experiences that residents can enjoy,” said Kim Coulter, Fish Creek program development and creative expressions manager. “Some of these are made possible through our extensive partnerships with some of the best cultural and educational organizations in Calgary. As well, our in-house professional artists and music director work with the residents to determine what we should be offering. For instance, at our Fish Creek community alone this summer we are holding eight different clay workshops this summer and more than 16 musical performances!”

The CPO quartet performs at United's Garrison Green

The CPO quartet performs at United’s Garrison Green

Our focus is on building a community  where personal choice is paramount, our residents can live active and engaged lives and where learning new things and participating in community events are fun and fulfilling everyday occurrences. There are a large number of programs that take residents out to enjoy concerts, lectures, the mountains and the many beautiful Calgary parks.

“While the partnerships provide us with a number of one-of-a-kind opportunities, it’s often the residents who suggest programs or activities they would like us to put together,” said Monica Schmidt, program development coordinator at United’s Garrison Green community. “That’s why the list of programs is so varied. It’s as varied as the people who live here. And that’s a definite benefit of living in a United community. There’s always something new and the programs are changing and evolving all the time based on what the residents want.”

United’s guides to summer programming (almost 40 pages of programming for each community) are now available for downloading or viewing online.

To take a look at these guides, please check out the links to printable PDFs below:

Garrison Green program link

Fish Creek program link

Our roster of performers, speakers and workshop offerings are constantly evolving, so please check in with the monthly calendars for any additions and changes.

Photos and video by Sherana Productions.

Why wait? Arrange a tour today! Lunch is on us!

Imagine! Flex your creative side. Fine dining. New friends. Luxurious suites. Live the lifestyle you deserve at one of our United Active Living communities. Click the button on the right to arrange a tour at Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a tour. We are happy to help! 

To learn more about life at United’s Fish Creek community, watch this short video.

Contact us here!

 

 

 


You're Browsing Creative Expression

Sheila Brinsmead with a few of her paintings on display

Sheila Brinsmead with a few of her paintings on display

You don’t need to be an artist to live in one of United’s two communities, but with professional artists on staff, you might find your hidden talent!

“I started painting as a child, working with pastels, but eventually began working with water colours and oils,” said Sheila Brinsmead, who moved into United’s Fish Creek two years ago. Sheila was attracted to the community because of its extensive creative programs including a full art studio and art gallery. She is a semi-professional painter and currently has an art show downtown and some of her works are displayed in the United art gallery as part of a show and sale by a group of painters known as the Painted Ladies, who are students of Sheila’s daughter, Mary-Leigh Doyle. They put on shows every year, and have partnered with United for the past two years.

Mary-Leigh, who has painted regularly with her mom for 20 years, comes to Fish Creek twice a week and has become close friends with others who come to the art studio.

Sheila and daughter Mary-Leigh Doyle share a laugh in the art studio

Sheila and daughter Mary-Leigh Doyle share a laugh in the art studio

“My first sale never really happened!” laughs Sheila. “One of my instructors had a show at Chinook Centre and I got a call from someone who wanted to buy one of mine. I was thrilled, but I turned him down.” She put her paint brushes aside to raise her seven children, and resumed painting after her husband died in his 50s. “When something like that happens, all of your plans for life after retirement change. I decided that if I’m ever going to paint, it has to be now. Don’t think about doing something 10 years from now, think about doing it now. Time is so fragile.”

Sheila and Mary-Leigh have had two art shows at United and one outside the community. “When we looked for a place for mom we were very attracted to the art studio. It is marvellous. The staff are professionals in painting, ceramics and other creative areas. The residents paint at all levels from beginner to professional.”

“Sheila has encouraged so many people to come to the art studio,” said creative facilitator Chantel Traub. “One of Sheila’s friends, Joan Patterson, who is an amazing quilter, has been coming into the studio to try her hand. Sheila is a big inspiration for others.”

“There must have been some very creative minds when United was founded that wanted to see creative interests represented in an older adult community,” said Sheila. “The programs are excellent. Absolutely A1!”

Sheila puts the finishing touches on a painting while Mary-Leigh looks on

Sheila puts the finishing touches on a painting while Mary-Leigh looks on

Mary-Leigh has seen a positive change in Sheila since coming to Fish Creek. Sheila broke her shoulder – twice – while living at home. She and her family thought a move to a community would be the best option for her. “It was difficult at first,” said Mary-Leigh. “She had to give up her home and the familiar part of her life there, but her painting and the art studio are what brought her back to her old self. This is where she thrives and comes alive, by participating in all of the various programs.”

“I’m so surprised by the calibre of the artwork being produced by the residents,” said Mary-Leigh. “The camaraderie is really something. People are trying new things. The residents all have different interests and skills. The staff here are the most patient and nurturing people that I’ve ever seen. This place really is heaven for artists!”

Sheila and Mary-Leigh also host an art history club. During one of those meetings they came to Fish Creek to see the work of artist John Snow, part of a larger collection of art called the United Collection, which hangs on the walls and sits in the courtyard of the community. Snow’s work is also displayed at the National Gallery of Canada and the Governor-General’s home in Ottawa.

The Painted Ladies work, including work by Sheila and Mary-Leigh, are on display in the Fish Creek art gallery. They are having a show and sale June 1. The public is welcome to attend between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. The address is United Active Living Fish Creek,  51 Providence Blvd. S.E. T2X 0X2. United will have staff on hand to answer any questions you may have about living at a United community.

Photos and video by Sherana Productions.

Why wait? Arrange a tour today! Lunch is on us!

Imagine! Flex your creative side. Fine dining. New friends. Luxurious suites. Live the lifestyle you deserve at one of our United Active Living communities. Click the button on the right to arrange a tour at Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a tour. We are happy to help! 

To learn more about life at United’s Fish Creek community, watch this short video.

Contact us here!


You're Browsing Creative Expression

Artist Ann Haessel explains an aspect of one of her pieces

Artist Ann Haessel explains an aspect of one of her pieces

“I didn’t know I could be an artist until 1982!”

Ann Haessel produces extraordinary work. Her latest show, which is on at the lower gallery at the Jubilee Auditorium in Calgary until March 27, displays more than 80 pieces that are for sale, with profits going to the Rotary Club to buy school supplies for students in Cambodia.

 

 

Wendy Martin, left, and Hertha Reich admire one of Ann's works

Wendy Martin, left, and Hertha Reich admire one of Ann’s works

“Most of the work you see was produced since 2002. I’ve done a lot of shows over the past 20 years. Three in New York City! When I started, I had a lot of support and encouragement from family and friends,” said Ann. “My mentor was a 100-year-old gallery owner who told me that I was going to make it.”

Ann uses unusual material including bone and cactus

Ann uses unusual material including bone and cactus

Ann, who moved into United’s Garrison Green community three months ago with her husband Walter, describes her work as textural, unique and created serendipitously. “I don’t have a plan for each piece. It just comes from somewhere and I go from there.” Ann buys material in shops that most people pass by, and her work includes plastics, metals – even bone and cactus.

Much of her work is in three dimensions. “It’s just a style that has evolved over time,” she said.

“I’ve never seen work like this in all my years of working with fabrics,” said Wendy Martin, an accomplished quilter, who also lives at Garrison Green. “I like the three dimensions. Working in layers, it’s just fantastic!”

Phyllis Graham points out the detail in Ann's work

Phyllis Graham points out the detail in Ann’s work

“I’m in awe of her work,” said resident Phyllis Graham, looking at one of Ann’s pieces in the gallery. “There are thousands of threads! I’m just amazed at the fine detail.”

During a special trip to the gallery, Garrison Green residents bought six of Ann’s pieces. Ann and Walt moved into Garrison Green because of the variety of programming. “It was the right time, the right place and the right direction for us,” said Ann. Does she have any plans to stop producing her unique artworks? “There’s no age restriction on creativity. My suite is filled with my favourite pieces and I’ve brought enough art supplies when we moved that I can continue if I want.”

Photos and video by Sherana Productions

Why wait? Arrange a tour today! Lunch is on us!

Imagine! Flex your creative side. Fine dining. New friends. Luxurious suites. Live the lifestyle you deserve at one of our United Active Living communities. Click the button on the right to arrange a tour at Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a tour. We are happy to help! 

To learn more about life at United’s Garrison Green, watch this short video.

 


You're Browsing Creative Expression

“I’ve often thought about writing my life story, so when this project came up I jumped at it,” said Fish Creek resident Gordon Schnell. Gordon, along with his wife Jeanne were partnered with two students from St. Mary’s University in a year-long life writing project called Weaving Words of Wisdom: Intergenerational Life Writing.

“This project has brought up memories that I’d forgotten about. I think something like this changes the way we see each other. It strengthens our community,” said Gordon.

Gordon and Jeanne Schnell with painter Jenna Leong

Gordon and Jeanne Schnell with painter Jenna Leong

The project was a collaboration between St. Mary’s and United’s Fish Creek community. It brought together about a dozen residents who were paired with students, who, together, wrote some of the residents’ most memorable experiences. As well, a student, Jenna Leong, painted artworks that reflected some of the stories, and student Daniel Melvill Jones shot portrait photos of the residents. The paintings and portrait photos are hanging in the Fish Creek art gallery. A book collecting the stories, photos and paintings is in production.

Jeanne recalled an early memory of living on a farm and being close to nature. She was curious about the world around her. She and other students wrote letters to soldiers serving overseas in the Second World War. The contrast between her serene life on the farm and the chaotic world of the war helped frame her later life and how she viewed her place in it. “What do you leave for the world?” she asked. “Society needs to be kinder and more compassionate. We should lead by example.”

“My father came to Canada from the Ukraine and understood the difficulty in being accepted into a new community,” recalls Jeanne. “My family went out of its way to make friends with those who couldn’t speak English well, or who were disabled. That support for the underdog stayed with me my whole life.”

Jenna Leong's interpretation of Jack Boyd's story

Jenna Leong’s interpretation of Jack Boyd’s story

While the memories were specific – meeting a future spouse, favourite holidays, living on the farm – each story also reflected the wisdom that came from those experiences that residents have carried with them decades later. One resident, Jack Boyd recalled narrowly escaping death several times while working. “Everything happens for a reason,” he said. Another resident recalled teaching at a time when refugees came to Canada during the Hungarian Revolution in 1956. While difficult because of a lack of resources and the language barrier, she learned that each person should enjoy each moment and make the most of every situation. And another resident had a curious mind and loved to travel. Despite the differences in language and culture, those experiences taught her to keep a positive attitude.

The residents and the students have formed a close bond through their storytelling experiences. Tara Hoban, who was paired with Gordon Schnell said, “Gordon has helped me to appreciate the passage of time, and he has shown me that time can bring happiness.”

Mikayla Ravenda, who was paired with Jeanne Schnell said, “Working with Jeanne was an eye-opening experience. She is one of the most caring and compassionate people I know. I appreciated seeing how her core values growing up shaped her life.”

In an interesting twist, the project was opened to older adults from the greater community who provided some of their stories.

Charles Jalsoviczky with granddaughter Sarah

Charles Jalsoviczky with granddaughter Sarah

“I got involved because of my granddaughter Sarah,” said Charles Jalsoviczky. Sarah is a student at St. Mary’s. “It sounded like a very interesting project, so Sarah and I contributed some of my experiences.”

“I give a lot of credit to the students who listened to my stories and captured them on paper,” said Gordon. “I was pretty excited to take part. Now I’m going to print out those stories and include them in my will. It’s a good way of preserving our history that might otherwise be forgotten.”

Why wait? Arrange a tour today! Lunch is on us!

Imagine! Flex your creative side. Fine dining. New friends. Luxurious suites. Live the lifestyle you deserve at one of our United Active Living communities. Click the button on the right to arrange a tour at Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a tour. We are happy to help! 

To learn more about life at United’s Fish Creek community, watch this short video.

Contact us here!

Photos by United Active Living, Daniel Melvill Jones. Video by Sherana Productions.

You're Browsing Creative Expression

United’s Spring Program Guides are now available for downloading or viewing on our website (see links below). Created for each of the Fish Creek and Garrison Green communities, the guides reflect the dozens of programs and outings available to residents over the course of the next three months. Each month, programs are offered around themes. The theme for March is the Winds of Change. In  April, the theme is Zen, and in May, the theme is the Victorian Era.

Hand-painted kite by resident Linda Bolton

Hand-painted kite by resident Linda Bolton

Along with the specialty programs pertaining to the themes, United communities offer regular ongoing programs that focus on health, community and creativity. Each guide contains more than 40 pages of interesting, informative and resident-focused programming.

“The programs and outings we offer residents are based on what the residents want,” said Kim Coulter, Fish Creek program development and creative expressions manager. “We work closely with our community partners to offer outings and in-house programs that residents find interesting, stimulating and educational. Some of the partnership highlights include talks by Calgary Philharmonic associate conductor Karl Hirzer and Calgary Opera conductor Kimberly-Ann Bartczak, and an in-house performance from the Calgary Jazz Orchestra.”

Outings to Calgary Philharmonic concerts, exhibitions at museums and art galleries, shows at the Calgary Opera and Lunchbox Theatre and more are offered regularly. In-house concerts and lectures are also regular opportunities and we have all manner of people and professions in to share their knowledge and talents with us. From Mount Royal University professors, members of the Calgary Jazz Orchestra and the Calgary Civic Symphony, and lectures from local historians, there is truly something for everyone.

Ceramic works by resident Louise Dean

Ceramic works by resident Louise Dean

“Our partnership with Mount Royal University and the Conservatory brings residents a wide variety of performances that you won’t find anywhere else,” said Monica Schmidt, program development coordinator, Garrison Green. “For instance, in March alone we’ll enjoy a performance from Mount Royal’s speech arts and drama students, a lecture by an expert in Greek and Roman studies, a concert from the Arioso Children’s Choir and a question and answer period with political science professor Duane Bratt. United has almost a dozen community partners that provide residents with a wide variety of experiences. Over the next three months, residents will have a large number of programs to choose from that promote lifelong learning, music, art, education and community connections.”

If you’re considering a move to an older adult community, lifestyle options are an important part of your decision. Take a look through the program guides and you’ll see that United offers something truly unique and exciting.

Here are the links to the guides for Fish Creek and Garrison Green.

Why wait? Arrange a tour today! Lunch is on us!

Imagine! Flex your creative side. Fine dining. New friends. Luxurious suites. Live the lifestyle you deserve at one of our United Active Living communities. Click the button on the right to arrange a tour at Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a tour. We are happy to help! 

To learn more about life at United’s Fish Creek community, watch this short video.

Contact us here!

Photos by United Active Living. Video by Sherana Productions.

You're Browsing Creative Expression

“Creativity is contagious. Pass it on.” – Albert Einstein

Calgary Civic Symphony conductor Rolf Bertsch often performs at United

Calgary Civic Symphony conductor Rolf Bertsch often performs at United

Listening to an exceptionally talented pianist or putting a paintbrush to canvas touch only a small part of the extensive list of programs that United offers residents at its two communities. United’s new winter program guides for Garrison Green and Fish Creek highlight a wide variety of exciting programs coming up over the next three months. Thanks to United’s partnerships, residents will be heading out to see the St. Mary’s University Choir, Calgary Civic Symphony, Lunchbox Theatre, Mount Royal Conservatory’s Sounds of the Season, Calgary Pro Musica, the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and many others.

“Researchers have long studied how getting older affects us, but only recently has the research focused on the positive aspects of aging, including a renewed interest in creativity and the social aspects that brings. We’re finding that age is no barrier to creativity,” said Kim Coulter, United’s creative expressions manager. “United provides the right atmosphere and opportunity for residents to express themselves. Our philosophy is to encourage residents to do that through the arts: singing, music, drawing, painting, dance, pottery and sculpture, plus the opportunity to attend professional and amateur performances both outside the community and in our own theatres.”

Resident Mary Fenwick performs with the Calgary Youth Orchestra

Resident Mary Fenwick performs with the Calgary Youth Orchestra

United’s extensive list of programs and activities – both specialty programs and events, and regular programs – sets United apart through the variety that is offered, and the program partnerships with Calgary’s art and cultural organizations.

“At United, being creative isn’t a hobby. It’s a way of life,” said Monica Schmidt, program coordinator, United’s Garrison Green community. “We have professional artists on staff who provide support for every level, from those who have never picked up a brush or a handful of clay, to residents who were attracted to United because they can continue their lifelong passion for art.”

Resident Con Irving's wood carvings on display at Fish Creek

Resident Con Irving’s wood carvings on display at Fish Creek

United has fully stocked art studios at both Garrison Green and Fish Creek communities, plus art galleries to display resident artworks as well as showings of professional work. Not only is it fun, but expression through the  arts can have health benefits researchers are just starting to understand.

As well, participation in the arts encourages connecting with others and making new friends – a cornerstone of United’s philosophy. Research shows that older adults who are the most socially engaged remain healthy and active. Communities develop when everyone has a choice, when residents are active, learning new things and participating in community events that they find interesting and stimulating.

United’s comprehensive guides of upcoming specialty and ongoing programs at both communities is available online. Each contains about 30 pages of programs so that residents and their families can see what’s available and make plans to participate.

Both guides are online at these links:

Garrison Green program link

Fish Creek program link

“When you see everything written down in one location, you realize just how extensive the programs  are,” said Kim. “It’s what makes living in a United community exciting and fun. There’s always something new and the programs are changing and evolving all the time based on resident input.”

Photos by Sherana Productions, United Active Living, Mount Royal Conservatory. Video by Sherana Productions

Why wait? Arrange a tour today! Lunch is on us!

Imagine! Flex your creative side. Fine dining. New friends. Luxurious suites. Live the lifestyle you deserve at one of our United Active Living communities. Click the button on the right to arrange a tour at Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a tour. We are happy to help! 

To learn more about life at United’s Garrison Green, watch this short video.


You're Browsing Creative Expression

“Someone once asked me how many balls of yarn I have. They’re still waiting for an answer. I’m still counting!” – Anonymous

Madge McAdam

Madge McAdam

When 101 year old Madge McAdam retired from nursing in the early 80s, she decided that the tiny babies she was looking after needed hats to keep them warm. She began knitting touques for them. Almost 40 years later, she still makes four or five each week. When she moved into Garrison Green, she found others who enjoyed knitting and a knitting club was formed.

A quilter and those who enjoy other fibre arts joined, so the name was changed to the fibre arts club, and is now one of the busiest groups in the community.

Learning to knit, crochet, quilt or do needlepoint are fine arts that many people are no longer familiar with. But as an older adult, these art forms were commonplace and remain an important place in their lives.

“I’ve done a lot of handwork over the years, both on my own and in groups,” said Chris Serafini. “I really like the camaraderie that exists with a group, which is why I’m working with the residents.”

Chris, who is the daughter of long-time resident Gladys Duffner, is an avid volunteer who spends a lot of time with her mom but also finds time to help with the fibre arts club as well as to volunteer with several other worthy causes.

“I really like the idea of building connections among residents, and knitting, crocheting, quilting and other fibre arts create a strong bond, especially when you have the same interests,” said Chris.

Wendy Martin

Wendy Martin

Wendy Martin agrees. She’s working on the pieces that make up a quilt. She says there’s companionship in the club. “We enjoy each other’s company. And that carries over to other groups here.” She gestures to others at the table. “Three of us play cribbage together regularly.”

Trudy Martin

Trudy Martin

“Do you knit?” Trudy Martin, no relation to Wendy, says it’s one of the first questions she asks new residents. “It’s a great way to introduce yourself and something lots of others have in common. Many of us have lost our spouses, so a club like this is an excellent way to make new friends.”

For the past several years Chris has supported the fibre arts club by finding supplies, working with their annual fibre arts show and sale and delivering the finished products to hospitals and charities. “When you have that many people making things, you end up with quite an inventory at the end of the year. After all, there’s only so many scarves and mitts you can give to family members!” jokes Chris. “That’s when the decision was made to hold a sale for charity.”

The eight to twelve regular members of the club create a variety of products that were put up for sale last week, with proceeds going to several charities. Last year, the residents chose the Children’s Cottage Society, Women in Need Society, the Mustard Seed and Sonshine Community Services to receive donations.

“The sale usually attracts the residents and their families, and staff,” said Chris. “This year, they raised over $1,000 for charity, plus we’ll be bringing about 200 of Madge’s newborn touques to the Rockyview Hospital.”

Margaret Hails

Margaret Hails

Along with the friendships that develop, Margaret Hails, who is busy today knitting mittens, says being in the club brings people of diverse backgrounds together. “There’s an understanding that develops. I was raised during the war in England, and one of my best friends was raised during the war in Germany. We talk about this all the time, how people are all the same. We were on opposite sides in the war, but we went through the same things, so we both know how important peace is.”

The members of the fibre arts club meet regularly, and pursue their passion for creating on their own. So if you’re looking for that perfect gift –  potholders, dish clothes and towels, scarves or mittens – just talk to the members of the fibre arts club. They just might have a little something left over from the sale.

Photos and video by Sherana Productions

Why wait? Arrange a tour today! Lunch is on us!

Imagine! Flex your creative side. Fine dining. New friends. Luxurious suites. Live the lifestyle you deserve at one of our United Active Living communities. Click the button on the right to arrange a tour at Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a tour. We are happy to help! 

To learn more about life at United’s Garrison Green, watch this short video.