First published: June 02, 2004
The closing of Illahee Lodge is very sad. The beautiful building at the bottom of Ontario Street in Cobourg, situated on the waterfront, was a summer retreat for many low-income seniors from Toronto.
The Family Services of Toronto has operated the lodge for about 60 years. Unfortunately, it needs about $200,000 per year to operate.
The historic building, constructed in 1878 by an American millionaire and is well maintained. A petition to save the program is being circulated by Betty Duffin, one of the seniors who enjoys the lodge.
There is a personal connection for me. My grandfather, who was living in a subsidized seniors residence, visited 14 years ago. It was the summer before I was to be married. With my job and preparations for the wedding, there was little time for him and I to visit.
While at the lodge, we met regularly. During our visits, he spent a lot of time reminiscing about his courtship with my grandmother, recounting some stories I had never heard before. My Grandmother passed away 10 years earlier. He gave me on a lot of advice on staying married, which has served me well since then.
These are some of my fondest memories with my Grandfather. He enjoyed staying at the lodge and the staff was magnificent.
Let’s hope the building will not go to ruin. The area needs a proper seniors centre. While the market building serves Cobourg well, the county or Cobourg council could step forward and assist financially with the building to create a place for seniors and continue to work with Family Services to provide a summer retreat.
With a little co-operation, everyone could benefit.