Baycrest visit sparks memories of family ties

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Photo of Baycrest visit sparks memories of family ties
Jerold and Gale Winter are impressed as they look around Baycrest’s new Kimel Family Centre for Brain Health and Wellness, and the refurbished Baycrest Terraces retirement residence.

The couple attended Baycrest’s centennial gala in 2018 and gave generously to the campaign to raise funds for the Kimel Centre, which integrates research with wellness programs and lifestyle interventions, with the ultimate goal of reducing dementia risk.

Their recent visit to the Kimel Centre takes them down memory lane. They are reminded of their longstanding connection to Baycrest, and especially their grandmothers.

Gale’s grandmother Etta Sklar lived at Baycrest for 23 years starting in 1973. Gale’s own parents died young, so it was special for her to spend time with her bubby and other older adults. Another memory suddenly emerges too.

“I remember a parrot in the foyer!” she says with a laugh.

Jerold’s grandmother, Minnie Winter, was something of a legend at Baycrest. She raised four children and also volunteered for more than 50 years – initially when the old folks home was located in downtown Toronto and later when it moved north to Bathurst Street in the mid ‘50s. She can be seen in a 1954 photo of officers and directors of the organization on display at Baycrest.

“What I really admired about her was not only the dedication, but she wasn’t part of the wealthier Jewish community. She just did it because it was in her blood to do it; her mother was also the same. She was low-key, going to Baycrest, coming home, making dinner,” he says.

“Women of that society were women at home taking care of the kids, helpful, invested in the community,” Gale adds.

Jerold was a volunteer himself in the late 1970s, helping to raise funds for Baycrest Hospital. The couple’s philanthropy is also ongoing through their family fund in support of Baycrest’s most pressing needs.

After her husband Frank died, Minnie became a resident of the Baycrest Terraces, which opened in 1976. Jerold becomes nostalgic thinking about his visits.

“I remember my first reaction – this isn’t a home for the aged, this is an apartment building,” he says. “It was revolutionary at the time.”

The highrise residence was built in a triangular shape, creating an open space to gather on each level instead of a typical hallway. The main floor included a large dining room and assembly hall, while the lowest floor featured a swimming pool, fitness areas, greenhouse, café and shop.

Since then, the Terraces and adjacent Kimel Centre areas have been renovated extensively.

“I’m sitting here and reflecting, I could be taking a tour of my future apartment,” Jerold says – perhaps only half joking!
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