Chartwell retirement residences are home to unique and interesting individuals, each with their own extraordinary stories. As seniors transition to retirement living, Chartwell aims to expand upon their journeys, helping residents to embark upon new chapters in their ever-changing stories. Through their “Make us part of your story” campaign, Chartwell senior homes are celebrating residents by focusing on the stories of four in particular – Hal, Florence, Jennifer and Pierette. Through television commercials and print ads, each resident offers an honest and authentic recollection of their personal history, while also touching upon their experiences in Chartwell retirement residences.
Their stories will make you laugh and pull at your heartstrings. This is Jennifer’s story.
Jennifer Howe, 82, Chartwell resident since 2007
Jennifer Howe has enjoyed an active and adventurous life. Born in Edmonton, Alberta, she fondly remembers carefree summers at her cottage, sailing on the clear blue waters and getting into all types of mischievous fun, from swimming to skating to sports. She even trained as an Olympic athlete at one point in time, quickly reorganizing her priorities to match her bold spirit.
“I didn’t think twice about trading in piano lessons for more thrill-seeking activities, like sports, horses and boys,” she quips.
Further lending to Jennifer’s venturesome ways, she recalls moving to England for a secretarial job in 1952. Upon arriving in late December, she was determined to make new friends prior to New Year’s Eve, a true testament to her outgoing and sociable personality. She enjoyed the celebratory night of count-downs and champagne among friends, and jests that she got home so late, she could barely see her typewriter the next day, which was coincidentally her first at work! Though she eventually circled back to Canada, her time in Britain was one of self-learning, as she discovered she had a passion for volunteering and women’s rights.
“For women, I think we need to break the glass ceiling in both politics and big business. Equality is very important, and we can contribute more than we are being asked to in this day and age,” Jennifer declares.
Meeting her husband, Ted, was a defining moment in Jennifer’s life. There was instant chemistry between the two, and together, the couple saw the world, visiting remote locations and surrounding themselves with intelligent people and good food. Jennifer first considered retirement living when her husband was diagnosed with cancer, wanting to live in a place where they could easily access medical care and support services. The prospect of not having to worry about meal preparation and cleaning also appealed to her: “A retirement residence was in the cards for us. I was fed up with cooking and housework!” Though her husband passed away shortly before they moved into their Chartwell residence, Jennifer persevered and moved in anyway, eager to be surrounded by people and conversation.
Jennifer is just as active in her retirement community today as she was growing up. Every morning, she walks her beloved Border Terrier, Lucy, nearly 2.5km, usually followed by a lunchtime chat with her good friend also living at the residence, Marilyn. Afternoons are devoted to some of her favourite hobbies, including needlework, bridge and thick mystery novels. She also enjoys a good shopping trip and getting behind the wheel of her zippy Kia Soul.
Jennifer is a source of inspiration to her fellow residents and friends, and a remarkable example of how life should be lived to the absolute fullest. Her happiness and positive outlook are infectious, as is her bright smile and great sense of humour.
To learn more about Jennifer’s story and her retirement living experience at Chartwell, view her video here.