Well-deserved send off from Beachcroft
The board of directors for the Beachcroft Seniors Apartments presented retiring building administrator, Bonnie Castle, with a portrait that will be placed in the hallway entrance to the building. Left to right are: Gary Annable, Estella Rose seated, Jackie Cross, Bonnie Castle, Ed Gibson, Phyllis MacMaster, Jonas Fossitte and Mary Fisher, seated. Morin photo

WINCHESTER –  Bonnie Castle celebrated her retirement as the administrator of the Beachcroft Seniors Apartments in Winchester on Wed., Oct. 14. She has served as the administrator for 34 years.

Her original retirement date was in March but COVID-19 put a stop to any opportunity for a retirement party. Last Wednesday, members of the Beachcroft board of directors, along with North Dundas Mayor Tony Fraser and Coun. Gary Annable gathered to say goodbye to Castle with a photograph of her, presented by director Mary Fisher, which will hang in the hallway of the Beachcroft. She was asked to come to Beachcroft to receive the photo but was not aware of the plans to celebrate her retirement.

She said she was taken completely by surprise. “I did not realize that everybody would be here,” she said. “I want to thank everybody for coming to help me celebrate the finale of my retirement that has been going on since March. I do miss it very much, and I tell everybody this was a big part of my life.”

Estella Rose another director said, “It is indeed an honour for me to wish Bonnie well in her retirement. She has been a wonderful asset to this building and to the many residents who enjoy living here. She always made the place very homey and took good care of the upkeep both inside and the outside.”

Rose explained the board had wanted a big celebration in March but it was not to be. “We planned on a big party with all former board members invited as well as residents, and special guests. Then along came COVID -19 and we had to downsize. “We did have a little celebration at Bonnies’ last meeting and gave her some flowers and wished her well,” she said.

MPP Jim McDonnell sent her a message wishing her well for all her years looking after the Beachcroft and MP Eric Duncan did the same.

Mayor Tony Fraser said, “She has been a valuable asset.”

He noted that the facility has always looked great.

He said, “I have never heard a negative comment about the Beachcroft and this speaks to Bonnie’s efforts. Thank you for your positive contribution in making North Dundas a great place to live, work, and raise a family.”

Jonas Fossitt, a director said, “Bonnie was a founding member of the committee of local residents who wanted to see this kind of facility built in Winchester.”

He said the work she has done over the past 34 years was greatly appreciated.

Castle is from Cornwall originally where she spent her time figure skating and teaching the sport to others. She eventually married and found herself in Winchester where she worked for Hydro.

Her involvement in what was to become her life’s work with the Beachcroft Seniors Apartments began in a most understated way.

There was a need for seniors’ housing in Winchester. This was around 40 years ago. “I was out walking one day with one of my daughters and Larry Cotton the founder of the building was walking around handing out papers. I knew Larry so I asked him “what are you doing?” He said he was trying to get people interested in the idea of some seniors’ apartments in town. “I told him I was just walking around town and I have lived here for ever so I know a lot of people, the older ones. I was only 35 at the time.”

He said if I wanted to hand some out that would be great. The idea was to get 500 names of people who thought they would eventually think they would be living in the Beachcroft.

All of the papers were sent in and in the end, the group supporting the idea of a seniors’ residence received the needed funding.

The building cost $2.5-million back then and is a non-profit operation.

“It took probably three years to break ground,” said Castle.

About that time a call was put out for more directors to serve on the organization’s board so she decided to volunteer herself. That was January of 1986.

“By the time April came around, they needed an administrator and they asked me if I would take the job. I have been there ever since.

Castle has many interesting memories from working at the Beachcroft for 34 years.

One memory was the night all of the appliances, fridges and stoves arrived from Scarborough at two o’clock in the morning. 

Everything had to be installed.

“There was a set for each unit. It took all night because there was a right hand fridge and a left hand fridge.

There were 45 units to hook up with appliances. A fridge and stove in each one.

“I think that might have been my most memorable memory,” said Castle.

“I tried to stay on top of everything,” she said.

About eight years ago all of the hallways were redone along with all of the lighting, the floors and new carpets were put in.

“The building has received almost a complete renovation or overhaul over the last 34 years,” said Castle.

“If anyone came to me and was unhappy with something I would try to make sure they were happy before they left me,” she said.

The building has a bright future. In 2021, at the end of June its 35-year mortgage will be paid up. Castle said the building has been carefully kept up and is in excellent shape.

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