Fish Creek Community – The Start of a Beautiful Friendship

“There are some people in life that make you laugh a little louder, smile a little bigger, and live just a little bit better.” – Anonymous

What began as a simple, friendly gesture has turned into a close friendship.

Joan Patterson, left, and Sheila Brinsmead share a laugh at lunch
Joan Patterson, left, and Sheila Brinsmead share a laugh at lunch

“I was sitting down for dinner in the dining room, when I noticed a new lady with a beautiful smile come in,” recalls Fish Creek resident Sheila Brinsmead. “I know how difficult it can be to come into a room full of strangers, so I got up and invited her to sit with us. We got to talking and that’s how it started.”

Joan Patterson, who had just moved into Fish Creek was recovering from a broken shoulder after a fall. The same thing had happened to Sheila, so they had a connection to get to know each other. The two have become “sisters from another mother”, as Joan likes to say, and they often eat their meals and attend concerts and outings together.

“I don’t think we would have connected like we did had we lived in a place that had assigned seating at mealtimes,” said Joan. Sheila agrees. “The freedom to choose where to sit and with whom to eat really opens the door to meeting new people and finding new friends.”

Sheila, who is an accomplished artist who has participated in art shows with her daughter, moved into Fish Creek in March of 2017, just a few months before Joan moved in.

“I was recovering from my broken shoulder, and it became clear that living in my home with several flights of stairs wasn’t going to work for me any longer,” said Sheila. “My family drew up a short list of places for me to consider and I knew that Fish Creek, with it’s professional art studio, was the place for me.”

One of Joan's quilts on display in the Fish Creek art gallery
One of Joan’s quilts on display in the Fish Creek art gallery

“For me, I made the decision to move on my own. I fell at home and broke my shoulder. My daughter lived next door and just happened to be there so she could help,” said Joan. “I realized that I should move into a community where I could get help right away should something like that happen again.”

The two of them are independent, make their own decisions and pursue their own interests. They take advantage of the many concerts and other programs that Fish Creek offers. “Just last week we attended three performances!” said Joan, who is an ardent quilter and music enthusiast. “We have met so many people here. Because of that, we don’t always sit together. We each keep so busy there are times we don’t even see each other, but we always find time to get together.”

“Fish Creek has so many programs. It’s a marvellous place for learning,” said Sheila. “As well, I really like the idea that everyone is included. You’re not separated by physical or memory issues that limits your association with other people. Here everyone is encouraged to mingle. I like that.”

Joan has a corner of her suite where she creates her quilts, and Sheila works in the art studio, often alongside her daughter, who comes to visit and paint with her. “We cheer each other on,” said Sheila. “Joan makes such beautiful quilts. That’s nothing that I could ever do!”



Standing in the art studio next to her most recent painting, Sheila, who has been an accomplished painter for more than 20 years, has nothing but admiration for the space and the creative facilitators, who are all professional artists. “This is one of the best studios – the space, lighting, instructors – it is so well equipped.”

“I really like Sheila’s work,” said Joan. “Once I finish my latest quilt, I’m going to try my hand at painting. I did try pottery and it was a lot of fun. It’s always interesting to try new things.”

What’s next for this active pair? Both Joan and Sheila are working with St. Mary’s University students in a life writing project, and Sheila is working towards an art show that she and her daughter are involved in next spring. Joan is putting the finishing touches on her latest quilt. And, oh, isn’t there another concert to attend this weekend?

Interested in learning more about life at Fish Creek? We’re having an open house in the community on Saturday, Nov. 17 from 11 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. so be sure to mark your calendar and let your friends and family know.

If you plan on coming out, please let us know at or call us at 403-471-3735.

Photos by United Active Living and Sherana Productions. Video by Sherana Productions.

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.

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