A few days after David's nomination in September 2014, we returned to our plans of adding two or three bedrooms to our house. I know it sounds a little extreme, and the challenge was to maintain the house we love but to have more rooms in it.
Jonah, Tracy, Jacob and Addison were planning to be here more often in the summers, and David, now running for parliament, would need room for Mishiel, Ozara and himself. The work began.
We had already added a new bathroom in the basement, installed a new septic system, and expanded the kitchen a tiny little bit to assure that the table would accommodate everyone. We found experts at excavating in small places, and they dug underneath the screen porch with the hope that, starting at the side facing the gardens, they could dig out enough space to add a bedroom. We removed the deck so that we could dig out for another bedroom under it, too. You can see a sketch of the plan here.
To our delight, the excavation under the porch was a resounding success, allowing us to add a bedroom and a windowless storage and cold room. We weren’t able to do all the work ourselves – it was a huge job with a deadline – so we called on professional help. Once the concrete was poured, I began to do the stud walls while waiting for the team to join me. That’s when the warnings started.
The self is an amazing thing. If one knows how to listen, it sends its early messages through the most subtle means. Of course, you have to do more than listen. You also have to take its advice. I didn’t get that part and slowly wore my resources down as the work went on.
One morning, Sheila and I woke up with the very same idea, as though we had been communing in that other world of sleep. We foresaw difficulties joining the insulated new roof of the bedroom that would be under the new deck, with the new ceiling of the rooms that would be under the unheated screen porch. There would be a seriously challenging thermal bridge to be forged between the two and the screen porch floor would have to be made waterproof unless…
Why don’t we move our master bedroom into the current screen porch and build a new screen porch? we thought together on that fateful morning. The old screen porch roof could then be insulated and the floor would stay dry. It shouldn’t be much more work and, not only would the thermal bridge problem be resolved, but our plan of building a ground-level extension some day ‘when we’re old’ would be realized. Also, David and Mishiel could move into the master bedroom upstairs, Ozara could move to their old room, and hers could become a den and guest room.
It is amazing how much more work that decision added to the project. Somehow, it doubled what we had left to do, and then we discovered that the construction team, who were good framers and rough carpenters, did not know they weren’t good at all the rest. Thankfully, our close friend and neighbour, Gord, was available and we could push on.
Well, to make a long story short, when I returned from the hospital and could not climb stairs, we moved into our mostly finished new quarters on the ground floor.
During that whole time, David and Mishiel were scaring us with just how hard they were working. They were all over the riding. David knocked on 10,000 doors while Mishiel drove and watched Ozara. The intensity of their work increased as we built our way through the summer, with its visit from the British contingent being the only break we had. The election call, beginning the longest campaign in modern Canadian history, came in early August. It seemed almost anti-climactic but of course it wasn’t. It was all-consuming. Knowing and watching David, who was given absolutely no chance of winning by those who are supposed to know, we were aware that if David felt he had a chance, he had a chance. Watching him grow up and deal with the world, never kidding himself and never accepting to be patronized, regardless of the authority he was dealing with, we knew that he was not wasting his time. If it could be done, he could do it, and he thought it could be done.
You can see his swearing-in celebration picture here.
We invite you to explore the many pages and links on this website to learn more about what we are all doing. Your comments are always welcome.
Back in 1992 we published the first issue of the Doncaster Ballyhoo. It was mailed out as an underground publication because, as an English-only newsletter, Bill 101 said that it could only go to people who had subscribed. We explained the problem to our readers and asked them to send us written confirmation, allowing us to legally send them the Ballyhoo. From a total of 1,800 newsletters, we received a response from a remarkable 900 of them.
Our original newsletter consisted of a front page that highlighted community initiatives and news. We also had pages on local history, useful homeowner information and insights into the real estate market. Now, with a website, we can easily post all the work that Joe is doing on local history, and this page will keep you up-to-date on community initiatives.
When we first retired from real estate marketing, we both began working in a pro bono capacity for the CSSS des Sommets. Joe had been asked to sit on the board as the representative for the English-speaking community and Sheila and Joe both joined a project initiated by Sandra Savery and France Laframboise, two dedicated nurses, and Carol Comer, a retired one. Funded through the Community Health and Social Services Network (CHSSN) with a grant from the federal Department of Heritage, member institutions in the health and social services network were invited to set up projects to help meet the needs of the English-speaking minorities. Sheila became the president of the committee overseeing the project and, over the years, we have seen the positive benefits of the committee's work.
Today, the English Communities Committee of the CSSS des Sommets has become a model for use in other CSSS territories in the Laurentians and Sheila still acts as a resource person. Sheila underlines that it could not have been done without the ongoing good will of the CSSS des Sommets administration.
Joe stayed on the board for five years, working towards the objectives we originally established, and is currently involved through an English-language committee that is responsible for the English Access Plan for our region. He sat on the boards of Fondation La Traversée, mandated by the Quebec ministry of health to build a palliative care home for the CSSS des Sommets region, and sits on the board of Conservation Manitou, a foundation dedicated to preserving natural environments. He is also a member of the Comité Consultative d'Urbanisme for Sainte Lucie. Sheila and Joe share a seat on the board of the Laurentian Club of Canada.
Sheila is following a passion for translating and is a member of the Editors' Association of Canada. You can learn more about what she is doing here.
Our son David is also involved locally, having been elected as the candidate for the Liberal Party of Canada for our riding, Laurentides--Labelle. David analysed the three major parties years ago and determined that an individual MP would likely have the strongest voice in the Liberal Party. At the time, Jean Chrétien was still prime minister. David's reasoning was that the Liberal Party is based on a pragmatic platform allowing it the flexibility to respond without ideological barriers. David lamented the lack of young people involved in politics and has worked actively to change that. For years he was a technology journalist and editor, volunteering extensively in his free time. He has been credited with helping get the GO train back to Guelph, where he lived at the time, and for having stopped the construction of a highway, encouraging public transit in its place.
David also anticipated publicly that Stéphane Dion would win the Liberal Party leadership if he entered the race in 2006, and he has worked for the Liberal Party in Ottawa for the past five years in the offices of various MPs, doing research, drafting questions, and interpreting data, and his involvement has also seen him in key roles in numerous election campaigns at all levels. He believes that the Conservatives and NDP would prefer a polarised two-party system but that the result of it would be two virtually identical parties jockeying for power as has happened in other democracies. Having a pragmatic party in the centre, he believes, encourages the discussion of ideas on governance.
You can see more on his official site here. His first major challenge is to raise enough money to be able to fight a campaign in Laurentides--Labelle. Even if you're not registered to vote here, you can still support him by donating to the riding association, as long as you are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. Each donor can give a maximum of $1,500 in a single year to a riding association in addition to $1,500 to a national political party. There are significant tax advantages to doing so, and they can be calculated right on the site.
David met Roemishiel (Mishiel) Marcelino, who is from the Philippines, while working in Ottawa, and together they have a daughter, Ozara, born in the Sainte Agathe hospital in March 2014. Mishiel has settled into life in Sainte Lucie and is building a business of providing services to the elderly residents of our area: running errands, providing companionship, doing household chores, etc. She is looking for more clients, especially those who would enjoy the occasional company of young Ozara.
Our elder son, Jonah, married Tracy Miranda of Nairobi, Kenya, and they live in the United Kingdom. They are both software engineers and have established their own consultancy. Their son Jacob is five and their daughter Addison is three.
You can learn more about some of our activities by exploring this site, and, while this page serves to re-introduce ourselves to you, over the next months it will be updated with local news. If you'd like to be informed of updates, or to share news of your community activities or events, please contact us (see sidebar) and we will add you to the Ballyhoo newsletter email list.
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Sheila and Joe live on a homestead in Sainte Lucie des Laurentides in the Laurentians north of Montreal. Together we write, edit, grow food, get involved in the community and generally have a full life. The site explains more; feel free to explore.
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