Edmonton

Displaced Calgary seniors adjust to slower life in small town

About 50 Calgary seniors who were forced out of their downtown highrise by flooding are getting used to a slower pace of life in their temporary homes in Bashaw, Alta.
About 50 seniors were moved from a residence in downtown Calgary to Bashaw, Alta. 2:18

About 50 Calgary seniors who were forced out of their downtown highrise by flooding are getting used to a slower pace of life in their temporary homes in Bashaw, Alta.

The central Alberta town of about 900 people is located 230 kilometres northeast of Calgary, and a complete shift from the life many of the seniors are used to in the city.

"It’s been different," said resident Bruce Reynett. "It’s very quiet. I admit, it can be lonely."

When the flood waters hit, Reynett and other residents had to leave Murdoch Manor quickly. Reynett had gone out to buy a coffee and when he came back, he couldn’t get across Macleod Trail.

"The water was flowing by and I just couldn’t get across. That was it," he said.

"I left home with my work jacket, my cap, my wallet with all my ID and here I am."

Bashaw had just built a new seniors lodge, leaving the old one empty. Dennis Beesley, CEO of Bethany Care, said they were able to get the old building operational quite quickly.

"We thought of all the things we would need to do to get it back in action and probably in about an hour we had a pretty comprehensive list of furniture, beds, linen, get the kitchen back in action."

While the accommodations are cozy, the residents have had to adapt to small town living, which lacks the bars, casinos and restaurants they were used to in Calgary.

The local tavern with VLTs has become a favourite hangout.

"A lot of people like to gamble so they were able to do that," resident Lynn Wallbruch told CBC News.

Reynett says there are benefits to living in small town.

"The easiest part is not hearing sirens constantly, seven days a week. Fire engines, CP Rail going by — clunk, clunk, clunk."

Not everything has gone smoothly.

Last week, an 85-year-old woman who is part of the group that moved from Calgary was found in a farmer’s field after going out for a walk the day before.  She was dehydrated but otherwise unharmed.

For the most part, the seniors say they feel welcome in Bashaw and many are making new friends.

In fact, one resident plans to stay after the others head back to Calgary at the end of the month.

With files from the CBC's Terry Reith