Skip to content

Sienna Senior Living honours residents who have served, sacrificed (6 photos)

'Remarkable individuals' from the community recognized to mark Remembrance Day 2020

To mark Remembrance Day 2020, Sienna Senior Living joins Canadians in honouring the men and women who have served, and continue to serve, Canada during times of war, conflict and peace.

It is with gratitude that we learn about the powerful life stories of the many residents who have sacrificed and helped to protect our freedoms, including the experiences of Carl Jory, Joan McIlwain, Don McNeil, and many more.

Sienna is proud to support and care for many veterans across our residences and we’re honoured to have these remarkable individuals as part of our community. By sharing their stories, we can help Canadians honour their contributions and ensure their sacrifices are never forgotten.

Carl Jory is one of the beloved residents at Woods Park Retirement Residence in Barrie.

As a mechanic in the Canadian Air Force, Carl recalled the landing gear not working during one test flight that another mechanic had worked on. “There’s not much cushion in an old bomber,” Jory said. “The DC3 (which I often worked on) could cruise for some distance without power, but the bomber would just come down.”

After being rerouted to Calgary on that test flight, Carl remembered being halfway to their destination when the undercarriage ‘came down with a clunk’ and the pilot took Carl and the crew back to Winnipeg for a safe landing. Carl grew up on his family’s farm in Simcoe County and joined the military in 1957 at the age of 20. He was sent to Winnipeg to work as an air force aero engine mechanic and stayed in the forces for five years.

While in Winnipeg, Carl met his first wife who he married in 1959 and they had two children. Later on, Carl met his current wife, Martha, and the two married in 1986. Carl worked at Molson Brewery as a maintenance mechanic for 24 years.

Now, at the age of 83, Carl is proud to be a Legion member for over 45 years. Today, Carl has three grandchildren and one great-grandson. Carl and Martha continue to enjoy life at Woods Park in Barrie — especially dancing and reading.

Joan McIlwain is a cherished member of Muskoka Shores Care Community in Gravenhurst.

“When a bomb dropped, we’d go to the house and put out the fire,” McIlwain said. “We got moved around too much. I don’t even remember all the places. It felt like we’d be in an apartment two hours and we’d be called to go out.”

Born in Aldershot, England, in March 1920, Joan joined the British army with two other women 79 years ago, in 1941, despite her parents begging her not to go. Initially, Joan and her friends were set to work on typewriters, before being moved to the fire department which she enjoyed immensely. Joan met Ted, a sergeant in the Canadian military, during an outing and they married in 1943. She left the service at the end of the war in 1945.

“At the end of the war there were celebrations everywhere you went,” McIlwain recalled. After the war, Joan worked at a TV station and she and Ted had two sons. Over the years, Joan unfortunately lost touch with the women she’d been in service with. “I often wonder where those two girls are,” McIlwain said. Today, at the age of 100, Joan continues to enjoy reading stories, knitting and bingo. She has one grandson and two great-grandchildren, whom she adores.

Don McNeil is a dearly respected resident at Woods Park Retirement Residence in Barrie.

“When you pick a bomb up you never know if it will go off, because it’s already armed,” said McNeil, who removed and disarmed faulty shells during the Korean War as part of the 1st battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment. As a driver and bomb specialist, Don often transported people and materials to the trenches. He can remember a few close calls. “A shell came in and hit the sides of the ditch (beside the truck),” McNeil said. “I was sent flying.”

Despite the 59 holes in his truck, Don was miraculously not hit by any shrapnel. After the war, Don returned home and joined the air force where he remained for 24 years, including being stationed in France, and retired in 1980 as a master corporal with seven medals while in service. He also reconnected with Mary Jane, a woman who lived nearby, whom he married in 1957.

Don and Mary Jane had three children together and now have six grandchildren. Together, they still enjoy their life in Barrie, while playing cards and games and visiting family.

Residents at Waterford Barrie Retirement Residence in Barrie proudly create and display poppies to honour all veterans across Canada, including the many who live in Sienna residences in their local community.