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Private Home for Senior Ladies



Reflections on Fulford

Have you been to the spectacular Fulford Residence in downtown Montreal? If not, you should!

I was captivated the moment I nipped off of a busy downtown street and turned towards the property at 1221 Guy. Who knew that one could walk into an estate from Downton Abbey right here in the heart of the city? Fulford Residence has had a historical connection with the Anglican Diocese of Montreal since 1855 when Mrs. Francis Fulford, wife of the first Anglican Bishop of Montreal, recognized the need for the counsel and protection of women. Although Fulford Residence has undergone a number of transformations in the past 162 years, it is now a residence for senior women with a palpable sense of integrity.

From the moment you cross the threshold of the property, the old world details are striking! From the grand welcoming red door to ladies lounging on the wrap around veranda with iced tea, to room after room of charm and elegance! I had the privilege of receiving a tour thanks to the kindness and generosity of dedicated volunteer Susan Winn. She took me down hallways and corridors where every corner was swept and well kempt and sparkling clean! The dining room was spectacular as it awaited lunch service, it looked as if it were set for royalty. I was so impressed by the care and attention to every detail.

I was welcomed into the private rooms of a few ladies who shared their stories of their appreciation for life at Fulford Residence. We are proud that our Bishop Mary Irwin-Gibson still presides as president of the Corporation and that many of our clergy devote themselves to celebrating Wednesday morning Eucharist on the premises. In fact, just a few days ago, our new Executive Archdeacon Robert Camara was on duty.

If you would like to volunteer, donate or learn more, contact Marie-France Lacoste at 514 933-7975 or by email

Check out their website, but there is nothing like an in-person visit so that you can get the full effect!

- Lee-Anne Matthews, Anglican Diocese of Montreal


My Mother at the Fulford Residence

For the past 8 years, my mother Katharine Marie Grier Burpee resided at The Fulford Residence. She recently passed away peacefully as she approached her 101st birthday. Several days before she died, I was called to be advised that she was being moved to a room near the nursing station as the staff were aware that she only had a short time to live. I was fortunate to be able to see her a day before she died. She no longer knew who I was but after I spoke to her, she gripped my hand tightly for a few minutes, something I’ll never forget.

The care my mother received at the Fulford was constant. In the early years, she could pretty much look after herself. There were lots of activities, musical entertainment, exercise classes and regular bridge with the other ladies. My favourite activity was the women, sitting in their chairs, playing soccer. Some of them could give the ball a good kick! Sometimes I would arrive when the ladies were having a meal and I would join them to chat. I got to know them and would ask silly things like, “Are you behaving yourself today?” You can imagine the prompt answers I received that quickly put me in my place! 

The ladies receive a lot of care at Fulford. They have regular appointments with the nurse, the hairdresser and have their nails carefully filed. Of course, as they get older, more care is needed and I saw great patience being given, even when someone like my mother didn’t like to be touched. Once a day, each lady is given her pills. In my mother’s case, approaching her with a few pills on a spoon had no possibilities of success, but if they were mixed with something nice and sweet, down the hatch they went.

Gradually, my mother lost her ability to see and to hear, and towards the end she no longer knew me. It was a very hard time for me as I tried my best to reach her. But a few months ago on a visit when I was trying to get her attention, all of a sudden, her eyes sparkled, a smile crossed her face and she said “Tommy” out loud as though she was talking to her young boy again. That broke my heart and will stay with me forever. But, don’t anyone else try calling me that if you value your life!

I have nothing but praise for the care my mother received at the Fulford Residence and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to other families. My only complaint, which I’ve voiced many times, is that they only take women and not men.

- Thomas Burpee


My Mother, Irena Kirkpatrick

Irena Kirkpatrick (nee Groten) was born in Russia during the middle of the revolution which was to sweep aside and attempt to erase all memory of the culture and heritage of her family. Although born in Touapsi, in the Crimea, her parents were both from St Petersburg. When she was born her father was a Lt Com of the Tsar’s navy in the Crimea, a post he held until the surrender of the navy to the Bolsheviks in 1921. He escaped to family estates in Germany and then Canada but Irena and her mother remained in the Crimea until they were granted visas to leave in 1923 under the fabrication that they were going to the funeral of a cousin in Riga. That escape from tyranny no doubt shaped much of Irena’s attitude to intolerance and my fortune was to have been the child of her instruction.

Upon landing in Canada and meeting her father for the first time as a young child Irena began her life here in Montreal a refugee from a homeland and way of life which she would never know. Although neither of her parents could return to Russia for a visit, Irena did so for the first time in the late 1970’s returning twice more to the land of her heritage and to her grandparents house in St Petersburg, (now the state Museum to the performing arts). She was proud of her heritage and retained her native Russian language skills her entire life although to speak with her was never to hear even so much as a trace of a Russian accent. Her family’s education had included French and German and so Irena was unusually equipped to deal with the bilingualism of her new found home in Quebec.

Growing up on St Urbain and then later on the east side of Sherbrooke St., Irena was educated at Montreal High School on University and would have accepted the offer to study at McGill had finances permitted. Her father died at an early age and to supplement the family income she trained as a secretary and took up various positions ending up at Dominion Douglas United Church in Westmount where she met her future mother-in-law Edna Richardson, of St Mathias. Thus began a lifetime love affair not only with her beloved husband John G. Kirkpatrick but with her adored mother-in-law.

Irena was married to John in the Russian Orthodox Church here in Montreal, a church little known to those of a more insular Westmount background, one which would mark the joining of two very different cultural backgrounds; Irena’s Russian Orthodox/Lutheran heritage and John’s Scottish Anglican heritage. With John she raised four children, three daughters Xenia, Kathleen and Patricia and a son Joseph.

In childhood Irena’s family and certain members of the Russian community kept up the tradition of going to stay in the country side in the Laurentians to escape the harsh heat and humidity of summer in the city. This would continue as she and John inherited a small cottage from John’s mum and added to it so as to accommodate four children, a maid and a cat called Minnie. Every week-end come what may Irena would pack up the family and off to the country we would go and indulge in whatever sport of the season be it skiing, riding, swimming, tennis or a spot of golf. Mostly I remember long summer days spent either exploring the countryside or cooling off on our small island outpost in the middle of the Riviere Simon with mum baiting a fishhook, laying out a picnic and reading a book ll at the same time.

Irena had many different past times one of which was gardening and as an offshoot of this, flower arranging, especially along the traditions of Ikebana of which she was an acclaimed grand master. Her love of the outdoors continued when in her late 50’s she and John decided to become certified scuba divers. Not an easy sport to pick up in your late 50’s but somehow they did and were able to enjoy several years under the deep blue of the Caribbean, South Pacific and Red sea. All of a sudden what was opened up to Irena was a whole other world of underwater sea life which we as children came to know from our other island home in the Caribbean.

Essentially however Irena was a people person. She was an excellent listener and as she had indulged in acting in the amateur theatres of her youth she was a source of endless entertainment. As a child I still remember waiting with eager expectation her coming to read to us as she put us to bed. She loved to entertain, and did so with great pleasure and an elegance which earned her quite a reputation.

But above all will I remember Irena’s passionate concern for those whose life circumstances had given them very little hope of ever being able to help themselves. She was a tireless worker for various charities during her adult life, and was always lending a hand to those new refugees to the country who needed a bit of a ‘leg up’. She was particularly fond of volunteering at the Fulford Residence and as first Directress saw the advent there of Provincially supported services.

None of these did Irena forget in later life, and whereas in recent past time she was unable to visit others or attend meetings she was always eager to receive visitors and support the causes she had always felt needed her support with a gracious generosity that marked most of what she did no matter where she was.

In a nutshell it was my mother’s sheer delight in discovery that so enchanted me. It did not matter what the issue or who the person or in what country an event happened, Irena wanted to know all the details and never ceased to ask questions. Nothing was ever accepted simply because that was the way it had always been done. Indeed the opposite was true. And so as I grew up I grew up with the happy maxim that to explore the unknown was a gift to be cherished and not wasted.

My mother’s energy and love are still too close to me to be able to write with any dispassion but then that perhaps would be an unwelcome event as it was her passion for life that made so much of what has happened in mine just so much fun.

- The Rev. Professor Patricia G. Kirkpatrick


A Personal Story

I had a total knee replacement at the Montreal General Hospital. I was unable to go home after my surgery and found this out only the week before my surgery date.

I had looked into respite care at some of the larger retirement residences on the West Island, closer to where I live. However, Fulford Residence came to mind, especially because of its proximity to the hospital should I need to return for any reason. Driving in from the West Island with the combination of construction and winter conditions was a huge concern. In addition there happened to be a Pharmaprix drugstore right around the corner from Fulford where I could make arrangements to get all my medications on the day I would be transferred. They would even deliver if necessary. It just required that I bring my information from my pharmacy to them which would allow them to set up a profile.

The big question was would Fulford provide respite care? The answer turned out to be yes, when rooms were available. I went to see the Managing Director Marie-France Lacoste, on the Friday before the Tuesday of my surgery. There happened to be two rooms available. I chose a very cozy room on the second floor that was painted in light yellow. It exuded welcome and warmth. I made my arrangements on the spot to be there in one week if all went well.

I did arrive the following Friday, three days post-op, to a warm welcome from staff and residents alike. I settled in for what I thought would be two weeks, and stayed three. I think I was the youngest person there at the time but got to know a number of the ladies. My next door neighbour and I could be found watching the Montreal Canadians games in her room and credited ourselves with their come back at the time.

I was assigned to a table in the dining room and knew I had finally arrived when an official name card appeared at my place. The food was delicious and varied. The kitchen staff and those assisting the tables were always upbeat, attentive and caring.

I was able to have my CLSC services from the West Island transferred to the Metro Montreal Branch for wound/nursing care and physiotherapy. The professionals who came to see me were excellent. This was arranged at the time of discharge from the hospital on the orthopedic floor and then followed up by the Director of Nursing at Fulford. The nursing care at Fulford was extremely helpful, assisting me with many things but especially pain control and ice pack management. I could depend on their support and that of the in-house physician at all times. 

I was invited to participate in any and all activities but found myself very busy with physiotherapy, ice pack management and rest. I did take in one chair yoga class which was wonderful. I very much enjoyed the Wednesday morning church services and would attend in my gym clothes with an ice pack around my knee. Who would have thought? 

I am so grateful that I had the opportunity and privilege to stay at Fulford to convalesce. What I absolutely needed I received. It was a wonderful place to recuperate and heal and from there return to autonomous living. 

So, does Fulford provide Respite-Rehab care? Absolutely and very well. 

- Daphne Ardell