Mary’s Place Housing Program
If We All Help A Little, We Will All Help A Lot!
The Mary’s Place Housing Program is dedicated to our Mother, Mary Bonell. Mom would never turn anyone away. Her saying was, “there is always room for one more”. She always made room for an unexpected guest and she always took time out of her busy schedule to help a family in need. Making a difference and helping others was her passion and she had some great ideas. “Housing was one of them” so I have committed to leaving this legacy for her.
Our Mother Mary was born in Sheenboro Quebec on April 14th, 1919. She had eight siblings.
She was a beautiful caring woman of faith and courage throughout her entire earthly journey. She raised seven children in the forties and fifties at a time when our current modern day conveniences were not heard of. In the early years of our family life we lived on a small farm near Burritts Rapids Ontario which is a small village located on the Rideau River in Eastern Ontario. Dad built a sawmill there and was promised that he and mom would eventually own the farm, however that didn’t happen. We didn’t have indoor plumbing or much in the way of electricity. The laundry was done in a big metal wash tub using a scrub board. The clothes dryer was the clothes line. Ironing was done using two irons that were heated in the fireplace. Everything was homemade. Mom was a good cook and every Saturday, weather permitting, my sister and brother and I would walk into the village to deliver Mom’s baking to other families. Some of the families paid for her baking and there were a couple of families who were less fortunate so Mom would bake bread and pies for them to help out. It was a beautiful community where everyone was like family. In 1959 we left the farm and moved to a small home located between Kemptville and Spencerville Ontario. Mom and Dad found jobs working in accounting at a construction company near Brockville Ontario and when that company closed unexpectedly they started a fruit and vegetable business. We sold apples door to door in various villages and towns and on the weekends we sold our fruit and vegetables at our own vegetable stand. I travelled by there not too long ago and was amazed to see the stand that Dad had built was still there in the yard. Mom always bought a couple of pigs in the spring and fed them over the summer so that we always had pork throughout the winter. The poor little pigs had no idea of their fate.
Our home was small and was on a small lot so Mom and Dad rented land where we would grow over 16,000 tomato plants in the summer and harvest them in August and September. We worked long hours and hoed the plants by hand My brothers and sister and I would walk from farm to farm husking corn, and picking vegetables to buy and sell. We were all hard workers. Dad wasn’t always well, and times were hard but we persevered. Dad was a WWII war veteran and sometimes suffered from what today is called PTSB. There was no medical help for our war veterans after the war and sometimes it would take Dad a few weeks to regain his composure after a bout. He also suffered from malaria from the war. He was an officer with both the RAF and the RCAF in Britain under Air Transport command Squadron 525 tasked to drop paratroopers and supplies from the various airborne units behind enemy lines at night and under fire. His unit flew long hours in dangerous territory which left an emotional mark on them when the war was over.
Our mother Mary was such a trooper. She was a great manager and we all loved working with her. Together we worked hard to earn the money to build a cold storage building where we stored climate controlled apples. Dad built this with a neighbour. We packaged apples at night and went to school during the day to service grocery stores throughout the Upper and Lower Ottawa Valley. We were doing quite well and then in 1969 Mom and I were in a motor vehicle accident in Ottawa. We were both hospitalized however Mom’s injuries were worse than mine and she was unable to continue doing physical work in the family business. My sister and brother were going to University in Ottawa and I was the next one to leave the nest so Mom didn’t have the same amount of help as in previous years. Thank goodness Mom was mentally strong and very resilient. In 1970 Mom and Dad moved to the Arnprior area with our two younger sisters and both got jobs once again working in accounting until retirement. Dad’s mother needed care, and we already had family here so it made sense to relocate to Arnprior.
The journey wasn’t always easy. But our dear Mother Mary persevered and she never gave up! The Fruit and Vegetable business was a vehicle that gave her the opportunity to meet families and see the way people had to live, and to understand the hardship that some people endured. Mom was very sociable and easy to talk to. She shared her stories which made it easy for people to open up to her and Money and the lack thereof was always a topic of discussion.
I have so much respect for our mother and for the work that she did to help so many to not give up hope and to bless and release that door that just closed behind them, and walk through the next door. Mary Bonell was an amazing lady and I am so thankful to call her Mother/Mom! She didn’t know it but she was a good counsellor and advocate for many and she inspired me to want to make a difference in the lives of others.
I have had my own journey and I know only too well the struggles associated with having to climb back up the ladder after a life crisis. It is not easy. When you are at the bottom of the ladder, you get hammered in every which way possible. Today more than ever in our electronic society, our capabilities and merits are judged by statistics and what is in our credit report. These reports do not paint a true picture of our work ethic and who we really are. The “life happenings” are not detailed in these reports. I recently had a CRA Collections officer review my client’s business account and I was really impressed that he had read all of the documentation. He made the decision to work with this client as he said, sometimes we just look at the numbers and we fail to look at what happened to this person to cause them financial hardship. This officer had his own story and he said that sometimes we are not able to be compassionate with others until we have walked in their shoes. This is so true.
Mary’s Place Housing Program is a two-fold program that will assist with home ownership for families, and provide education to instill in them, a good financial habit forming routine. The “Habit” has been a missing ingredient in helping families to rise back up. Education is powerful and forming good financial habits is a powerful form of education.
Thank you for your support.
For more information, email: HousingProgram@marysplace.ca or Call: 613-623-0011