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Casey was a big lovable bundle of fur.

Somewhere in there were two big brown eyes that you

constantly looked for. Eyes that said "Hi! Who are you?

I like you!" Behind, around and sometimes over these

were two big floppy ears. These cried out for a rumple,

which you inevitably gave them.


When the door of the elevator opened and Bill Modlin hiked out, Casey would pad along on his big paws. All of this was done in a quiet lovable way. Casey did that. He calmed you down. He made you feel better. The world was a happier place.

Casey was all this and more. He was a thoroughbred Sheepdog who entered and won a certificate for sheep trials. His winning efforts are on film. Casey was also a Therapeutic dog and proudly wore his St. John's medal when he visited the veterans at Sunnybrook Hospital.

Bill would jokingly complain that people always noticed Casey. They made a big fuss over Casey before they ever noticed him.

As Casey aged, he became slower and suffered diabetes and arthritis. This never stopped him from accepting an offering of kind words and a gentle pat on the head. His tail never seemed to suffer any slow down. It waggled like a puppy's when he was meeting admirers or going for a walk with ever-attentive Bill.

Sadly, on September 30, 2003, he just couldn't waggle any more.

Casey was a ray of sunshine spelled with a capital C. We shall miss him.

- Douglas Lavery


Howdy Neighbour
An interview with
Cosmo Fiorillo.


Written by Sarah Faerman.

November 2001

How long have you been at Winona?
Two years. In 1971 had a heart attack and had to change my life style. Taking care of my house and cleaning snow in the winter was no longer feasible. I began to volunteer at St. Clair West Senior Centre and was delivering meals. That is how I learned about Winona Co-op.


Where were you bom?
In a small town in Calabria, Italy. It was actually a farming village of approximately 1,000 people.


Tell me about your family.
There were 3 of us children in the family. I was the youngest and I had an older brother and sister. I had no grandparents but there were many uncles, aunts and cousins.


What was important in your family?
Togetherness. We were always visiting family members. My mother was the youngest of 13 so there were many relatives and we were always in and out of each others homes.


What was school like?
School was in a house - usually the teacher’s home. There were 25 kids in my class and I finished grade 5 when I was only 8 years old. School was very different than here. There was strict discipline - no answering back or you’d get the strap or a kick in the butt, even from women teachers. Pupils had to totally obey the teachers. There was no recess. We attended school from 9-12 and then went home to help the family.

This was during World War 2. How did the war affect you?
These were very hard times. Dad was away at war. My mother was always looking for ways to feed us. She would go by foot to another town to buy flour. She would take olives, grind them for oil and then trade these for something else. We had eggs, but we never ate them as they would be sold. At the end of the war, when my dad came back, as a four year old, I resented him because I had to give up my place sleeping next to mom.

When did you come to Canada?
We came in 1949 on the ship Vulcania. It was a wonderful experience because there was enough food for us to eat. We landed in Halifax and it was the first time I saw snow. It was so cold as we travelled by train to Toronto.


How was the adjustment to Canada?
It was very difficult. I didn’t know English and the other kids in school made fun of me. They didn’t like Italians and called us ‘Wops’. They would gang up on me and beat me. Once, a man who owned a boxing club on Dundas and Clinton, saw me crying and took me into his club where I learned how to box. That made a big difference and I had my revenge on my tormentors.


How was the adjustment for the rest of the family?
Everyone had their problems but nobody talked about it. In the beginning my father worked in construction and that was very difficult especially since there weren’t unions at that time.

What schooling did you have?
I always wanted to be a mechanic, so first of all I studied for my mechanic’s license. At a later time, I went back to University to study mechanical engineering. I always liked education and went back to study whenever there were new technological advances - like fuel injection, diesel fueled engines, computerized car components,etc.


Where did you work?
I had many jobs. I sold insurance and I was a Private Investigator for 5 years. After I had my license, I worked as a mechanic for 10 years and had my own service station. After further education, I worked for General Motors and the Ford Co.


What did you like best of all?
I always enjoyed working with people and helping them. I learned from each job. In insurance, I enjoyed talking to people and helping them to plan properly for their future. When construction became too difficult for my father, I arranged for him to open up a little store and took it over for a while after he died. From being a Private Investigator, it made me more cautious. For example, I learned to watch my back: If I saw a car following me too closely, I would change direction to see if it was still tailing me. Because of my mechanical and engineering training, I have been able to see that the work done here at Winona by contractors and tradespeople is done properly and that we are paying fair prices.

Howdy Neighbour
An interview with
Des Simpson .


Written by Sarah Faeyman.


How long have you been living at Winona?
I have been here since 1991.


Where were you bom?
In Belfast, Nothem Ireland.


Can you tell us something about your family?
I lived with my mother, grandfather and uncle. I was an only child and they looked after me well but there was discipline.

What was school like?
From age 10,1 attended the Royal Belfast Academical Institution - better known as “Inst”. It was the topmost private school and difficult to qualify for it because of the high standards. It was like getting into Eton or Harrow.

How did World War 2 affect you?
All my teen years were spent during the war. Everything was rationed and the city was heavily bombed. 25% of the city was destroyed and half of the remainder was damaged.


We were in North Ireland but South Ireland was neutral with a German Consul still there who was busy contacting Berlin and managing to provide supplies to German submarines that would then attack the allied convoys.


When the war with Europe ended I wanted to travel. I applied to an American Jute Co. to work in India and was chosen over twenty others. My family was very worried because the Japanese army was still stationed in Burma and they feared for my safety.However, the voyage by ship to Bombay was lengthy and by the time I arrived in Calcutta by train three days later, the bomb had been dropped and the war with Japan was over.

How was your adjustment to living in India?
It was great!!


There were one thousand men under me and I was known as Simpson Sahib ( high status). I had servants who did everything for me. In Calcutta, which is in Bengal, the working class people spoke Hindustani while the upper class spoke Bengali or Urdu. As I wanted to communicate with my workers,


I learned Hindustani. I first lived above the community centre and could come down to play snooker (he won a snooker tournament) and go to the bar.

What stands out in your mind about that period?
Many wonderful adventures. One year after my arrival in India, I took a train to the foot of the Himalayas and then transferred to the famous Darjeeling Assam Mountain Railway. On my 21st birthday I ascended Tiger Hill in the dark, 9,000 feet up in the Himalayas and watched the sun rise and illuminate Mount Everest about 40 miles away.


Another great adventure was a visit to New Delhi to see ‘The Red Fort’ (4 palaces enclosed by a huge wall that provided fortification during battles). Because I spoke Hindustani, I gained the confidence of people who were unaccustomed to foreigners speaking this language. Therefore, I was let into “the secret of The Red Fort”. On the Mosaic walls,


I was told to gaze deeply at a carved rose. I looked and looked and eventually discovered that the floor plan of the entire wing of the palace was engraved on the rose. Legend had it that the Maharajah kept all of his wives and concubines busy guessing what the secret was in order to win a big financial reward.

Another amazing sight was Kutb Minar - a magnificent stonework conical tower. From the top, one could look out over the desert and see a depression one mile away. I was told that this was the site of the Sacred Well-Divers of India. Of course, I went to explore. The tower was 120 feet high with doors every 20 feet going up the wall.


The Sacred Well-Divers lived there. On the top, looking down, it was like looking through the opposite end of a telescope as the space became narrower and narrower toward the bottom where there was only 5 feet of water. The divers would jump from the top and dive directly into the water. This fete was achieved by first practicing, when they were children, by diving from the lower doors and working their way higher and higher.

On a trip to Agra to see the famous Taj Mahal, I discovered yet another secret. I was gazing at the huge stone caskets in the palace that contained the bodies of the emperor and his favourite wife. Once again, the fact that I, a foreigner, could speak Hindustani, so impressed the guard that he beckoned me to follow him. He took a -torch, lit it, and led me through a door, down the stairs below to a chamber directly below the caskets upstairs. There were identical tombs to those above and these contained the actual emperor and wife. The ones upstairs were only replicas.

How long were you in India?
I was there 4 years in all. After 3 years I went back to Ireland, married and returned to India. We were there when India gained independence in 1947 and when the country was divided into Pakistan and India. There were uprisings and some Sahibs were killed.


It was 1949 and I decided it was probably time to leave. Additionally, my family wanted me to return to enter the family business which was one of the largest lithographic and box making factories.

What made you decide to leave Ireland after 8 years?
The conditions were actually very good. I obtained exclusive prime land (like The Bridle Path) that was part of Lord Derramore's estate and the lease was for 9,999 years. I designed the layout and we lived in a very big house .


My first son was bom in 1951 and soon there was another son and a daughter. However, in 19561 could see that the Catholic/Protestant clashes were intensifying and felt that it would be better to emigrate.


Family and friends felt I was making a terrible mistake in leaving behind the house and the business. Perhaps because I had been away, I could see things better. I said: “In 10 years , the political situation will worsen and they will be at each others5 throats”. I was wrong. It took 11 years.

Why did you choose Canada?
I was in a bar, chatting and drinking with some Canadian sailors and I decided tha

Howdy Neighbour
An interview with
Albert Fequet.


Written by Sarah Faeyman.

November 2003


How long have you been at Winona Co-op?
I moved in right at the beginning in 1983.

Where were you born?
I was bom in a little village, Old Fort Bay, in Quebec on the lower north shore just 30 miles away from Newfoundland Labrador. There were no more than 150 people there, all English.

Can you tell us about your family and some early memories? 
We were fourth generation Canadians. My great, great, great grandparents came in 1715. They were originally from Normandy France. As French Huguenots, they were persecuted for their beliefs and had to flee - first to the Jersey islands between England and France and then to Canada. Growing up here, I never considered myself French. I was the youngest of 12 children and after my mother died, my father re-married and had another 8 children. We were very poor. Most people in the town were fishermen as was my father. We ate fish on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays. For meat we would hunt birds, partridges and seals. In those days we used kerosene lamps, had wood burning stoves and the water, carried from the well, was stored in barrels. We all used the same tin cup for drinking.

Did you go to school?
I went to the local one room schoolhouse with 40 children of all ages. In cold weather we would freeze until the room warmed up by 10 a.m. When I was nine years old, I had an accident. In the winter, I fell from a sled and injured myself. When the wounds wouldn’t heal, 1 was taken by an Anglican mission boat to the mission hospital 100 miles away. I spent 3 and a half years in that hospital. My hip was injured and for 2 years I never got out of bed. There were no X-Rays, no therapy and the care was primitive. I tried to get out of bed, but fell flat on my face. I used an old fashioned wheel chair and later, crutches.

Did you see your family?
No. They never visited and I was very lonely. After a while, the doctors and nurses became my family. When it was time for me to leave the hospital and go home, it was very rough as it was like leaving my family all over again.

Did you have any schooling in the hospital?
The nurses taught me to read and write. I learned to love books and was always reading. I read Horatio Alger, The Bobbsy Twins; I learned about Abraham Lincoln and was so impressed with him, I wanted to go to the U.S. In fact, from all my reading, I developed a big appetite to see the world.

How was it back at home?
Not very good. My mother died soon after I came back. I worked at fishing but I didn’t like it. A nurse from the hospital knew that I wanted to travel and she arranged for me to work on her father’s farm near Oshawa. I was the only one in my family to leave that area.

What was it like to leave home?
At the age of 18,1 saw for the first time cars, a train and ice cream. I was very impressed when I saw all the electric lights of the city. It was beautiful.

How was work on the farm?
Not for me. The farmer had me working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week for $70.00 a month. After four months, I moved out and realized my ambition of seeing more of the world. I went to the Gaspe, the south shore of Quebec and was a salesperson for retailers. Then a friend and I headed for B.C. in 1954. The very next day after I arrived, I had a good job working for $2.20 an hour in a huge plywood plant. There were 28,000 workers and for the first time I saw Hindus and Chinese. There was the
IWA union (International Woodworkers of America) and I was impressed with the campaign for equal pay. I became active in the union and was elected union shop steward to represent the people in the plant. The total union consisted of 10,000 workers and I was sent to conventions in Portland, Vancouver and Florida to represent our plant workers. After 8 years I moved to Los Angeles and worked in the Beverly Hills Hilton Hotel and was in charge of the liquor supply. I saw many famous people there - John F. Kennedy, President Johnson, Eisenhower and Nixon. I had a furnished room in a garage behind a house in Beverly Hills. There I was, sharing space with a Lincoln automobile and eating fresh oranges from the tree outside my door.

How did the 20th Century affect you?
The Cuban crisis in the 60’s and the Watts riots in L.A. made the U.S.A, seem too dangerous a place to remain in. Canada began to look much better to me. So, in spite of the beautiful sunshine, I headed back home. After 6 months in the arctic, I settled down in Toronto working at Sunnybrook hospital as a Clerk in Finances. I enjoyed every minute of it. The work was interesting and my boss was a friend to all of his workers. Imagine! 1 came from a town of 150 people and at work there were 4,200 employees! I also found that Toronto was the best city of all.

What is your favourite leisure activity?
I like reading books about Canadians and politics. I also like politics on the T.V. and Larry King interviews.

What is one of the things you like best about Winona?
Everything. I have friends here. I had a stroke 3 years ago and entered into a deep depression fearing that I would have to move to a nursing home. Therapy helped me to function pretty well although I cannot use my right hand. I also now have an electric wheel chair to help me get around. My friends here, Joan Romeyn, Ewa Losiak, Miriam Clarke and many others visited me and cooked for me which was a big boost to my morale. Then I was able to move to another apartment here specially equipped for handicapped and it is so convenient.

What changes would you like to see at Winona? 
I wish we all got along co-operatively.

Howdy Neighbour

An interview with
Joan Barrett.

Written by Sarah Faerman.


How long have you been at Winona?
Fifteen years. Since 1989.  


Where were you bom?
In Winnipeg but my father worked in gold mines in Northern Manitoba and Northern Ontario so we were always moving from one place to another.


Tell me about your family.
My dad was originally from England and when he arrived in Canada, he worked on a farm in Alberta, which he loved. However, he had a wanderlust and would have kept on moving if my mother hadn’t put her foot down.


My mother had grown up in India until the age of 14. I could only appreciate later how difficult it was for her to follow my father from one mine to another. Often she was the only woman in the place and as someone who had grown up with servants, she now had to fetch water from wells and do without most of the amenities.


However, she did play violin and often would play with other musicians who worked in the mines. I was an only child but the year before I was bom, on the same day as my birthday, my older brother was bom but he did not survive. My mother never liked Canada and wanted to return to England so we moved back . I didn’t like it at all and I became sick with pnemonia so we came back to Canada - to Port Arthur.

What was important in your family?
All the old values - ‘the Protestant Ethic’, namely ”you won’t get anywhere unless you work hard”; “Don’t tell lies”.


What schooling did you have?
I liked school in Port Arthur but my mother didn’t think much of the standard of education there so after grade 8,1 was sent to a private boarding school for girls in Winnipeg. I didn’t like it at first because there were no boys and there were too many rules and regulations.


I made good friends and we called ourselves “The Three Musketeers”. We would raid the kitchen. We had heard that if you combined aspirin and coke, you would get drunk. One of us tried it out and was so sick from it. I also learned to smoke there. I later realized, however, that I did get the best education there. In addition to French and all the other subjects, I continued with violin lessons that I had started years back .


I studied harmony and composition and had a music teacher who looked like Einstein. I thought he was old, but he could have been only 45. At the boarding school, on Sundays, all the girls, in hats and gloves, would go off in single file to church.

Weren’t you lonesome being sent off on your own to boarding school at 13 years?

No. Actually, I was excited to be travelling on my own. I would have loved to go back-packing around the world but it wasn’t done in those days - not girls anyway.

What else did you do in Winnipeg?
From early on, I wanted to be a figure skater like Sonja Henie and I took lessons. I also took dancing lessons and found that I was more suited to this. In Winnipeg I studied at the Winnipeg Ballet under Gweneth Lloyd.


I took the Royal Academy of Dancing exams and got good marks. I was there 3 years and my dream was to be part of the Winnipeg Ballet Co. but my parents moved to Calgary and insisted that I join them there.


I kept up with my violin lessons and music exams and played second violin in the Calgary Symphony Orchestra. There was no possibility to progress in dance in Calgary at that time so I went to the Banff School of Fine Arts for 3 summers to study ballet. I was later on the staff at Mount Royal College teaching ballet. However, I still had dreams for myself and decided to move to Toronto to further my own professional goals.

Tell me about your dancing career in Toronto.
It was 1952 and T.V. was just starting here. I went to many auditions and danced on many T.V. shows such as: “The Big Review” (Norman Campbell was one of the directors); Midge Arthur’s “Canadettes” at the C.N.E. (Blanche and Alan Lund choreographed there) ; “Canada Hit Parade”; Junior Magazine”;“Showtime” and “The Wayne and Shuster Show”. There were many music shows then.


Did you stop dancing once you married?
Not entirely. We moved to Aurora and it was nice to be home looking after my daughter, Laura. There was the occasional show and I also taught jazz and ballet.


I had my own school of dance and choreographed some shows. I was in Aurora for 17 years and after my divorce, moved back to Toronto. My daughter, who now lives in Nova Scotia with her husband and 3 children, was studying to be a jazz dancer in Toronto at that time.

Were you able to resume your career in Toronto after all those years?
I had done a bit of acting all along but no longer had the contacts. Also, there are not so many jobs for older people, especially if you are not known. To this day, however, I do get bit parts as an “extra” in movies such as “Serendipity” with John Cusack. I did work full time as a supervisor at the Bay and would go with a fellow employee to Jazz clubs after work. I met Des at one of the clubs and then again on a Jazz Cruise. I decided to go back to school and earned an honours B.A. at York University.

What is your favourite leisure activity?
Reading, crossword puzzles, walking, meeting friends. Particularly walking around neighbourhoods and trying out different restaurants.


What would you say is a priority for Canada?
To keep our own character. To be independent of the U.S. We have a very good democratic social fabric and I worry about all the talk of integrating our economics and borders.


What is the best thing about Winona?
The sense of community. You have the choice to go down for coffee every day but you are not pressured to go.

What would you change at Winona?

People should just relax and accept people for what they are.

Do you have a philosophy of life?
I tend to accept things as they are and make the most of it. On the whole I guess I’m a survivor and have landed on my feet.

Howdy Neighbour
An interview with
Myrtle Doerksen.

Written by Sarah Faerman.

August 2000

How long have you lived at Winona? 
Almost four years.


Where were you born?
I was born in Kansas in the U.S. in the middle of a dust storm. My uncles battled the storm to locate a doctor who could come to the house to deliver me. I was born with congenital cataracts, which, was considered legally blind. (To be legally blind means 10% or less vision in the best eye).


Tell me about your family.
I was born in the middle of the depression. Times were very bad—the wheat didn't grow, there was no work. As my parents were both Canadian, they moved back to rural Manitoba. I was the oldest of 10 children, 5 brothers and 4 sisters. As the oldest girl I was a big help to my mother and I remember thinking: "I'm really looking forward to the time when I won't have to run when I hear a baby crying."

What was important in your Family?
As Mennonites, we lived in a Mennonite community in a village called Blumenort. Church attendance and strong morals were important characteristics of the community. Our schools were part of the church but higher education was frowned upon, which was hard on me as I loved learning.


What language did you speak?
German was spoken in the church and a Dutch dialect was spoken at home.


What schooling did you have?
The CNIB (Canadian National Institute for the Blind) wanted me to go to a special school but my parents didn't want me to leave home. The local teachers helped me up to grade 8 and then my mother needed me at home to help her.


I so badly wanted to continue my education that I took grade 9 by correspondence. I even underwent eye surgery to enable me to see better for studying but it only helped a little. Eventually I did leave home to take grade 12 in Steinbach, Manitoba and then to bible school. When the CNIB offered me a typing course in Toronto, I decided to take it but after completing the course and working as a typist, I decided that my heart wasn't really in it. Because I always has a thirst for knowledge and loved study and academics I decided to enroll at the University of Toronto.

What work did you do?
After I graduated with a master's degree in Social Work, I worked in several hospitals and for the CNIB. A highlight for me was supervising social work students. I was also active on committees and on several boards. More recently I worked as a volunteer for the Multiple Sclerosis Society as a leader of a counseling group for individuals with M.S. I've also volunteered for St. Clair West's Services for Seniors.

What is your favourite leisure activity?
I like the social aspects. I had shared a house for 28 years with a very good friend, also of Mennonite background. We lived just down the street on Atlas Ave. Unfortunately, she became ill and died. It was a big Ioss. When I moved into Winona, people were friendly and helpful which made things easier. When I broke my shoulder, Nora took care of my cat and Narda and Penny, my plants. Other neighbours have also been very helpful. Another plus is that here I am allowed to have my cat, Ebony, with me.

Howdy Neighbour
An interview with

Rose Dyson.

Written by Sarah Faerman.

August 2000

How long have you been at Winona Co-op?

Fourteen years.

Where were you born? 
Yorkshire, England.


Can you tell me something about your early childhood?

I grew up in Yorkshire, in a mining village and lived with my grandparents. Although I didn't have a father, I was surrounded with love,

What about your school years?
I loved school and went to high school when I was eleven years old on a scholarship. This was the only way a poor child could afford to go. I hated to leave school but had to go to work at sixteen.


Did you have a favourite job or occupation?
I studied singing for two years and then speech and drama. I always acted and sang. Although I had various jobs, my favourite work was as an actress in the professional theatre. I loved it.


We did repertory theatre, with rehearsals in the morning. The company of actors was intellectually stimulating and fun. My second favourite job was when I worked for a newspaper for three years in Canada for "The Aurora Banner". I was a typesetter, proof reader and did some writing. I loved the atmosphere there, the sense of a team getting something done.

When did'you come to Canada and what was your fitst impression?

I came, reluctantly, in the 50's with my husband and baby girl. My first impression was that Canada was huge and that the cars were big monsters! Unfortunately, lacking contacts. here, I was unable to resume acting, although I did some summer theatre.

How did 20th Century world, events affect you?

The war years destroyed my teen years. There were shortages (including men) and a great sense of being confined. We were unable to travel. I tried to join the women's forces but my employer, at the railway, wouldn't release me from work.

What is your favourite leisure activity?
Reading, music, theatre, movies, I have the opportunity to bring many of these interests into the society I belong to, "The Ulyssean Society" and in return I receive a lot of intellectual stimulation from them.

What is one of the best plays you saw recently?
"Medea" at Stratford. I have recently developed a passion fir Greek dramas. 

What do you like best at Winona?
My balcony and my friends.

What change would you like to see at Winona?
I'd like to see a tighter fiscal responsibility.

What would you say is a priority for Canada at thisAimel
Less abuse of power in every walk of life.

What is your philosophy of life?
To live as fully as one can.

Rose Dyson_edited.jpg
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