SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I.- Receiving a large piece of granite from your kids for your 84th birthday might not be at the top of everyone’s wish list, but Dick Wedge was happy to receive it.
“I was very surprised. It never even occurred to me what they were up to,” said Wedge.
What his kids were up to was rescuing the cornerstone from Summerset Manor.
Wedge’s father, Henry, an MLA in 1965, pushed to build the first seniors care home in Atlantic Canada.
Summerset Manor on Granville Street housed seniors until 2012 when a new building, with the same name, was opened.
Having served its use, the old brick structure was demolished this summer. But its significance was not forgotten.
Wedge’s daughter, Nicolle Morrison, felt something needed to be saved from the building.
Morrison had heard the legend of a time capsule but had no idea if it would still be there since the demolition was well underway.
After getting permission from the province, Morrison’s husband, Rick, showed up at the site one day in August to rescue the stone from the landfill and, with some help from the crew at the jobsite, got the cornerstone into his pickup truck.
Behind the stone was the time capsule.
It was a long wait from summer until Wedge’s birthday, on Nov. 29, but the family managed to keep the secret.
“I didn’t know anything about it until I got invited to a birthday party,” he said, though he was a little suspicious why the family thought his 84th birthday was such a big deal.
“Eighty-four is not a celebratory year,” he said.
Morrison presented a photo of the cornerstone first, explaining what they had done. Then they handed him the time capsule, wrapped like an ordinary gift.
“I had trouble opening the box at first. I guess I didn’t really realize what it was at first.
“I didn’t know what a time capsule was going to look like.”
The long, slim copper box was full of newspapers, photographs and a copy of the speech Henry gave when the stone was set.
Wedge was busy getting his business off the ground when his father went into politics in the 1960s.
“This was his crowning glory, I guess you could say,” Wedge said.
A pharmacist by trade, Henry saw older adults weren’t always getting the medical attention and respect they needed.
“They were left with the families, and if the families didn’t want to take care of them, they were just locked away in a room,” said Wedge.
“A lot of these people had come back from the war, they were injured and they were damaged. I guess now they call it PTSD, but in those days, that didn’t exist. People just thought they were getting old too fast. Anyway, that was the idea behind it all,” said Wedge.
Henry travelled with a group of Island politicians to Portage la Prairie, Man., to see the new concept of seniors housing for themselves.
When they returned to P.E.I. in 1965, the province went ahead and built Summerset Manor. It was popular right away.
“Because that was overflowing, they build Wedgewood and named it after Henry,” said Wedge’s daughter Nicolle Morrison.
“And then they built manors all over the Island,” said Wedge.
He plans to mount the cornerstone on his property. Wedge is glad to have the monument and the capsule, so he can pass along some of his father’s legacy.