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Summerside retirement building celebrates victory in annual jigsaw puzzle race

The winners of this year's Chesapeake Suites Jigsaw Puzzle Race was the team at Summerside's Chesapeake Heights. The company holds a puzzle race annually between its four retirement living buildings. The team was, from the rear left going counter-clockwise, was Anna Johnstone, Wilna Warren, Ella Simmons, Jean Millar, Gloria Lucas, Corinne Kay, Bertha Richard and Mimi Duhamel (not present). Colin MacLean/Journal Pioneer
The winners of this year's Chesapeake Suites Jigsaw Puzzle Race was the team at Summerside's Chesapeake Heights. The company holds a puzzle race annually between its four retirement living buildings. The team was, from the rear left going counter-clockwise, was Anna Johnstone, Wilna Warren, Ella Simmons, Jean Millar, Gloria Lucas, Corinne Kay, Bertha Richard and Mimi Duhamel (not present). - Colin MacLean
SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. —

They are the champions, my friends, and they'll keep on fighting till the end.

They have the trophy to prove it.

On the morning of Feb. 4, groups of experienced dissectologists (jigsaw enthusiasts) gathered in the common areas of four P.E.I. retirement residences to face-off in the annual Chesapeake Suites Jigsaw Puzzle Race.

Gloria Lucas holds up a jigsaw puzzle piece. The visual puzzles are a favourite pastime in her community. - Colin MacLean
Gloria Lucas holds up a jigsaw puzzle piece. The visual puzzles are a favourite pastime in her community. - Colin MacLean

 

The competition is fierce. Each group has a system and strategy, honed by months of training and years of experience.

"We practise all year," said participant Jean Millar.

Chesapeake Suites operates four private retirement living apartment buildings -- two in Summerside and two in Charlottetown. They started the competition in 2016 as a way to build some camaraderie among residents and help them flex some mental muscles.

This year's trophy went to the crew at Summerside's Chesapeake Heights, on Brophy Street. It was their first win, though there have been some close calls in the past.

They finished a 1,000-piece puzzle in just over five hours, starting at 9 a.m. and finishing at 2:04 p.m.

Jean Millar, left, Ella Simmons and Wilna Warren take a look at the Chesapeake Suites Jigsaw Puzzle Race trophy, which their team at Chesapeake Heights in Summerside won this year. - Colin MacLean
Jean Millar, left, Ella Simmons and Wilna Warren take a look at the Chesapeake Suites Jigsaw Puzzle Race trophy, which their team at Chesapeake Heights in Summerside won this year. - Colin MacLean

 

Groups at each building were given the same puzzle at exactly 9 a.m. and the first team to text a photo of it completed, with a time stamp, to Melody McInnis, won the race, a trophy and a pizza party.

McInnis is the managing director of Chesapeake Suites, and the puzzle competition is one of her favourite events of the year.

The residents look forward to it, said McInnis, and their enthusiasm is infectious.

"We just feel like it's a really good, positive, get-together. It's fun and it gets competitive," said McInnis.

"It's realistic to do in a day, but it's not easy to do in a day. You have to work at it."

Residents of Summerside's Chesapeake Heights enjoy spending a lot of time assembling jigsaw puzzles together and have a system they use to get them done. From left are Corinne Kay, Gloria Lucas, Jean Millar, Ella Simmons and Wilna Warren. Colin MacLean/Journal Pioneer
Residents of Summerside's Chesapeake Heights enjoy spending a lot of time assembling jigsaw puzzles together and have a system they use to get them done. From left are Corinne Kay, Gloria Lucas, Jean Millar, Ella Simmons and Wilna Warren. Colin MacLean/Journal Pioneer

 

The Chesapeake Heights crew has a strategy that they use in the competition. One group sorts the pieces into colours while another focuses on building the frame of the puzzle. Then they start working in smaller groups on particular features of the image.

"We have a system," laughed participant Gloria Lucas.

"It's fun, a good pastime."

However, Lucas warned that if anyone was thinking about getting into puzzling as a pastime that it is not for the weak-willed.

"Have lots of patience."

The Chesapeake Suites Jigsaw Puzzle Race has been held annually since 2016. - Colin MacLean
The Chesapeake Suites Jigsaw Puzzle Race has been held annually since 2016. - Colin MacLean

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