Northeast Town earmarks land gift from Fielding family for seniors’ housing with donor’s blessings

Bold outline indicates land gifted to the Northeast Town by Mrs. Lily Fielding. The Manitoulin Centennial Manor is the large blue roofed building and the adjacent Channelview Apartments for seniors is the black roofed building.

Land adjacent to Manor valued at nearly $700,000

LITTLE CURRENT—Lily Fielding and her family have donated a portion of land located adjacent to the Manitoulin Centennial Manor and Channel View Apartments to the Northeast Town to support the development of affordable senior housing in the municipality. The gift represents the largest private donation to the community in its history.

“August 19 will be my grandmother’s (Lily’s) 100th birthday and she wanted to support some special initiatives for her 100th year,” Jeff Wallace said to The Expositor on behalf of his grandmother and family. “She has a subscription to The Expositor and reads it diligently. She learned of the need for senior housing from the recent articles in the paper and wanted to help. La Cloche and Manitoulin is very near to her heart—it’s her favourite place in the world. She saw the need and had access to land to donate towards the cause. She would like to see the challenge (the lack of senior housing on Manitoulin) addressed.”

“Having spent time in the Northeast Town with my family over the years, I am aware of the town’s needs for senior housing and welcome the opportunity to be part of the solution to that problem,” Ms. Fielding said in a press release. “I am not putting any conditions on the donation. We are giving the property to the town and trusting council to make those decisions that are in the best interest of the municipality.”

“Ms. Fielding and her family have donated approximately three acres of land, valued between $600,000 and $700,000, adjacent to the Manitoulin Centennial Manor, overlooking Low Island Park,” said Northeast Town Mayor Al MacNevin at a press conference announcing the donation last week. “We have been trying for some time to develop affordable senior housing and were having difficulty securing funding. This donation is going to help this effort greatly. Lily Fielding and her family believe in supporting the communities that they live and work in and I can’t express my gratitude enough for this gracious gift to our municipality. This is an exciting opportunity for our community and I look forward to working with the private sector to create additional housing and support for seniors in our municipality and Manitoulin.”

Mayor MacNevin said that he met with Ms. Fielding at her home on Long Lake to personally express his thanks for the gift on behalf of the municipality.

“I think this donation is fabulous,” said Manor board chair and Assiginack Mayor Paul Moffat. “Hopefully something can come together with this and the private sector and we can develop something to help the seniors of Manitoulin. This is a much needed facility and a perfect location. We (the Manor board) will definitely be speaking with Dr. (Roy) Jeffery because this fits his proposal.”

Earlier this year, Dr. Jeffery brought a proposal to the Manor board, asking the board to consider parting with some of the Manor’s property and donating it to a not-for-profit organization that would seek funding to build an assisted living facility.

He explained that he approached the Manor board about donating a portion of the land because the home is using less than a third of the property it’s built on and he also felt that there could be shared benefits.

The new facility would in turn work with the Manor, contracting services such as meals, nursing and housekeeping.

The Manor board members took the proposal back to their councils, seeking support for the board to investigate the proposal, but not all the Island municipalities would give their support, leaving the board unable to move forward.

“This is wonderful news,” said Dr. Jeffery in learning of the donation. “It’s funny how these things work out. I will be getting the committee back together and hopefully the (Northeast) Town will give us the opportunity to get a new proposal together.”

Mayor MacNevin also noted to The Expositor Ms. Fielding’s and her late husband Cliff’s past support of the community including generous donations to the local hospital and the Manitoulin Centennial Manor.

“The Fieldings have a long history of supporting the Manor,” added Manor board member Wendy Gauthier. “They have generously donated to all the campaigns including $10,000 this year to the Calling on You campaign for a new call bell system for the Manor.”

Local historical Sandy McGillivray spoke to The Expositor about the history of the land being donated, which was once part of the Red Mill property.

“The three acres of land were part of the Red Mill property which included Low Island, up to where the Manor is and along Park Street,” said Mr. McGillivray. “It 1927 it was bought by Norm Trotter and his wife for $2,700, which was a lot at the time.”

Mr. McGillivray explained that the donated land and surrounded land originally had smaller homes for workers and a few bigger homes for managers on it and that where the Manor sits today was a boarding house for mill workers.

The land was divided by a creek, separating Low Island and the rest of the area.

“The Lions Club bought the land from the Trotters in the late ‘50s, eventually donating it to the town,” said Mr. McGillivray. “The town rented the homes to tourists in the summer, but eventually got out of the landlord business and demolished the homes. When the government set up a committee to develop a long-term care home on the Island, Little Current seemed like the best location because it had the infrastructure and the hospital, though the West End was against it and wanted it there. Eventually it was decided that the Manor would be built in Little Current and the town donated the land in the mid ‘60s with the Manor built in 1967.”