When Kevan Yuck first stepped into the Veterans’ Lounge at Providence Manor six years ago, he says he was blown away.
“I was overcome with emotion,” smiled Yuck, who lives in the long-term care home.
“You look at all these items. There’s stuff in here that my grandfather had.”
Located on the fourth floor, the lounge is filled with donated memorabilia from past and present residents.
When you walk in, it’s like taking a trip back in time.
The walls are lined with images of residents serving their country.
There are official military uniforms, model airplanes, books, there’s even a radio from the Second World War.
This is more than just a room.
It’s a 24/7 tribute to all veterans, for the sacrifices they made for our country and our freedom.
Yuck is one of those veterans.
The 83-year-old served with the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) for 27 years.
He joined the military in 1953, he was only 17.
“I just wanted to get out and do something, and that was exciting to me,” recalled Yuck.
“We weren’t allowed to join until we were 18 but we could get our parents to sign us up, so that’s what I did.”
Yuck worked as a radar technician serving in a number of northern communities in Quebec, Ontario and Saskatchewan.
“During that time there were all the problems with the Russians so we had radar sites all along the northern part of Canada. I would be at these radar sites watching for the enemy aircraft to come in.”
Yuck isn’t the only veteran at the long-term care home.
Lucille Langevin joined the RCAF during the Second World War.
“It was 1943. I was 20-years-old,” recalled Langevin.
Now 96, she’s considered a wartime pioneer.
That’s because she was a member of the RCAF’s Women’s Division.
When Canada entered the Second World War in 1939, women were only allowed to serve their country in medical or nursing roles.
But with the number of male recruits decreasing and the demand for services increasing, the RCAF became the first Canadian military service to actively recruit women like Langevin.
“I worked as a fabric worker,” the 96-year-old beamed.
“The aircrafts at the time were made of fabric and they would come into the hanger all torn up. My job was to repair the components and put the aircrafts back into operation.”
Langevin did that job proudly until the end of the war.
She was discharged in November 1945.
“We were well fed, clothed, we had no expenses, I had a great time,” she said.
And it is stories like that, the Veterans’ Lounge is honouring.
There are 31 veterans who now call Providence Manor home.
The lounge is a place for them to come together, bond and reminisce.
“I’m just in awe of them and very humbled to be in their presence really,” said Kyle Cotton, Administrator at the long-term care home.
“The donations we have received help us honour our residents. It’s very powerful, impactful and touching. We’re proud of this space.”
“Our veterans served all over with the navy, military and air force,” added Danielle Preston, Recreation and Volunteer Coordinator.
“Some of them have advanced dementia or very limited cognitive ability, so when they come in here they can look through the photographs or books and it may trigger a memory for them or their family. It’s impactful, meaningful and resident centred.”
The lounge opened its doors in 2004.
The project was spearheaded by Ann St Denis, a volunteer with Providence Manor.
She also runs the home’s Veterans’ Committee, a by-monthly social gathering for veterans.
“I’m very humbled to be in their presence and I consider it a real privilege to be able to work with them,” said St Denis.
“As soon as a veteran moves into the home, I meet with them and their family. I introduce them to the Veterans’ Committee and bring them to the lounge.”
Their name is then added to a plaque which features the names of every veteran who has lived at Providence Manor.
“Every single veteran is recognized and honoured,” said St Denis.
“When they pass we add a poppy next to their name, but they are never forgotten. By engraving their name on a plaque, other veterans or residents can come into this space, pause, take a moment and remember them.”
“It’s just a feeling of reverence and thanks. Remembering the hardships that many of our veterans went through and the ones who never came back,” explained Yuck.
“There’s a feeling among veterans, a feeling of closeness, unspoken, but the feeling is there.”
“Veterans share a bond you know, it’s precious,” added Langevin.
“Whenever I have visitors I bring them to the Veterans’ Lounge. It’s very touching.”