Monday, July 22, 2024
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St-Joseph’s residence gets a new set of keys

by Camilla Faragalli
Shawville
Jan. 27, 2024
Bill Smith has been tickling the ivories for about 65 years. Thanks to a generous donation from the Shawville Lions Club, he will be able to continue doing so for the enjoyment of residents at Les Ami(e)s du Manoir St-Joseph, a private senior’s residence in Campbell’s Bay.
“They really enjoy it, I think, and so do I,” Smith said.
Smith’s mother, Marjorie Webb Smith, lived in the residence for about two years, prior to her passing in 2018. During his mother’s time there, Smith and his wife June picked up the habit of striking up a tune on the manor’s old piano and singing along.
“The residents love it, it’s kind of a singalong that goes on, and everybody participates,” said Colleen Larivière, Director General of the home since 2012 and mayor of Litchfield.
Even after his mother’s passing, Smith and his wife, who live in Bristol, continued their singalong tradition on a monthly basis.
“He never stopped coming, which is kind of extraordinary,” said Larivière.
“I wouldn’t call myself a performer, I don’t crave a big audience, but I do enjoy playing,” Smith said. ”In the case of St-Joseph’s it’s about 19 people near my piano, singing with me and my wife, and I really enjoy that.”
Smith said the only issue was that the residence’s old piano had sticking keys, and would frequently need to be tuned.
“I’m a bit fussy about tuning in pianos. If they’re really out of tune I really don’t want to play them.”
Smith said he was speaking casually with his brother Eric at a family event about the possibility of purchasing a digital piano when Eric, a member of the Shawville Lions Club, suggested approaching the club to source the funds for the purchase.
The club, which often funds community events and causes, agreed, and Smith went to Ottawa to test a couple different instruments. The piano, a Kawai digital, was purchased, and set up by the two brothers at St-Joseph’s Manor last week.
According to Eric, there was plenty of excitement when the piano arrived.
“The residents there were very pleased. They have a very keen interest in music,” he said.
Larivière said she was in her office and could suddenly hear music and singing.
“I came out to see, and the residents were all gathered around. One of the ladies was playing the piano, it was very nice to see,” she said.
“It’s a beautiful piece of equipment,” she added. “You couldn’t ask for a nicer gesture. It’s very much appreciated.”
Smith said it is his own love of music that inspires him to keep visiting the residence.
“Just to hear people enjoy singing, and they really do,” he said.
“The group that’s there now sings surprisingly well,” he added. “We’ll start and next thing you know, after about three seconds, somebody’s singing it, and they’re singing it in tune!”
He said he and his wife even made up a book of lyrics with about 75 songs ranging from Broadway show tunes to popular music from the 40s, 50s and 60s, as well as some newer pop songs.
“I think that for people that are in seniors homes, a variety of activities is great,” Smith said. “And I think music is really one of the best.”

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