‘Truly magical.’ New Residents describe their first Christmas at Berwick

For 27 years, Margaret Pilon lived in a small house next to Berwick House in Gordon Head, and whenever the retirement community had a special event, they were sure to invite Pilon and her family. So when Pilon and her daughter Barb decided it was time to downsize, the choice was easy.

“We knew all the staff before we moved in. Tom Goluza, the general manager, is one-of-a-kind. My mum knew him when he was a young boy,” Barb says.

Being only 62, some of Barb’s friends were concerned that she was too young to move into a retirement community, but Barb says she loves it.

“We went to our first Christmas Gala a week ago and I tell you, it was truly magical — that’s the only word I can use to describe it. Mum and I couldn’t believe that this is where we lived.”

Like a tonic

Across town at Berwick Royal Oak, friends Peg and Judy are just three weeks into life at their new home, and loving every second. The pair spent the last year at a different retirement community that left a lot to be desired, and say Berwick is lightyears ahead.

“Moving here has been just like a tonic,” Peg says. “The staff are fabulous. Just so helpful, accommodating and efficient. The people who serve us in the dining room are a group of the nicest young people I’ve ever met. They are just so professional, it’s a dream to sit there and a privilege to have them look after us. Everything they do here is just first class.”

After a dull year at their previous home, Judy says life at Berwick has been uplifting.

“There’s lots of good humour here, and everyone we meet is friendly. They go out of their way to introduce themselves and suggest activities. The choices seem endless!” she says.

Life is always full at Berwick Retirement Communities, and extra joyous during the holiday season. Photo courtesy Berwick Retirement Communities

Life is always full at Berwick Retirement Communities, and extra joyous during the holiday season. Photo courtesy Berwick Retirement Communities

Welcome to the Berwick family

The holiday season can be a lonely time for those missing loved ones, so Berwick staff take extra care to ensure everyone feels welcome.

“In Active Living our role is to bring the joy and spirit of the season to our residents and come together as a festive community through all our small and large events. It feels like a big extended family and we all have a lot of fun together,” says Rachelle Reath, Active Living Manager at Berwick Royal Oak.

Barb, Peg and Judy all mentioned the many events that make spirits bright throughout December, on top of the many daily opportunities to engage inside and outside the Berwick community throughout the year.

  • At Berwick Royal Oak, residents and staff come together for two full days of decorating in the last week of November, while outside at Berwick House, residents watch as staff arrange over 10,000 lights in the Berwick gardens.
  • Live entertainment performs in the Berwick Theatre and dining room by Joyz and the Boyz, Festive Brass Quintet and more.
  • Christmas Craft Fairs feature handcrafted items from residents and staff as well as outside vendors.
  • Outings take place to the Nativity Display at Sidney Church, the Naden Band Christmas Concert, Butchart Gardens’ lights and displays, the Victoria Symphony POPS Christmas concert at the Royal Theatre and more, using the convenient and comfortable Berwick Bus.
  • Residents enjoy casual social events with traditional holiday baking (special family recipes made by staff), mulled wine, Christmas Karaoke and eggnog in the Pub, carol sing-alongs and more.
  • The Berwick “Grandparents” welcomed students from Strawberry Vale Elementary for a visit, with a special appearance from Santa.
  • Chef and cookbook author Denise Marchessault led a holiday French baking demonstration, with tasting of course!
  • Non denominational Christmas Eve services are offered in the Berwick Chapel.

Berwick Retirement Communities are both locally and family owned offering flexible, upscale and affordable senior living options in a caring community.

For more information about Berwick House, contact Maggie Raw at 250-853-5492. For more information about Berwick Royal Oak, contact Kathy McAree at 250 419-4012.

Berwick’s Holiday Season Roundup

Here is the Berwick holiday blog roundup post! Because this is the first year since the pandemic that we have been able to welcome family & friends from our community indoors, it feels like the kind of year to pile on the ugly Christmas sweaters, the tree ornaments, the garlands, the sweet treats, and the festive craft ideas. We have seen amazing ideas and creations come out of our communities and want to share that joy with all of you. Special thanks to our amazing team of people who come up with these fun, festive and social activities for the residents of Berwick to enjoy with each other and their loved ones. 

  1. If you’re feeling handy and hungry this holiday season—and who isn’t?—then decorating a gingerbread house might be the perfect project for you. Get inspired by this amazing, award winning ginger bread house created by one of our Berwick Qualicum Beach team members, Leah! “Christmas to me is all about family, and as a family we thrive on being creative together. With my new, found “sense of family” here at Berwick, I felt it was worth tying the two together and creating something truly out of the box! May the Drummond Family proudly present Ginger Berwick!”
  2. Hosting an ugly Christmas sweater party is hip, happening, and hilarious. Residents and team members of Berwick Parksville got into the tacky spirit of pinning the ornament to the sweater this season!
  3. Chef Cindy and her team at thought about if Santa made himself a nightcap, it would taste something like this. Santa’s Spiked Hot Chocolate is creamy homemade hot cocoa spiked with peppermint schnapps, topped with fluffy whipped cream, and crushed peppermint candies. It sure brought lots of cheer to the residents of Berwick by the Sea!
  4. Start the elf races at Berwick Comox Valley! A festive game where you’ll need a deck of cards, dice, the elves, and a toonie for each game. Be forewarned, it gets competitive and the residents and team members of Berwick Comox Valley had a hilarious & jolly good time.
  5. Berwick House hosted it’s annual Winter Wonderland this year after a hiatus, due to the pandemic. Our guests were transported to a beautiful backyard experience of festive displays of holiday lights and décor. They danced under the snow machine, took pictures with Santa, enjoyed hot chocolate and the beautiful voices of the carolers. It was a heart-warming evening with over 150 guests enjoying the traditional sights, sounds, and experiences. Thank you to our amazing Berwick House team who made it all happen!
  6. Christmas wreaths are a classic and easy way to instantly up the ante when it comes to your Holiday trimmings. Residents of Berwick Royal Oak enjoyed a DIY Christmas Wreath class accompanied by mulled wine and Christmas cookies. It doesn’t get much better than that!
  7. “On the first day of Christmas Berwick gave to me…” congratulations to the winners at Berwick on the Park who participated in our 12 Days of Christmas scavenger hunt. We hid a picture of a partridge in a pear tree in the building!
  8. Today’s Christmas door knob hangers are a popular activity during the holiday season! The residents of Berwick on the Lake had a great time personalizing their home’s doors to look wintery and festive. There was also no shortage of giggles…

Looking for more fun Berwick holiday cheer? Visit our Instagram and Facebook page to see what we’ve been up to this December. Click below to learn more about life at Berwick.