“It’s Amazing how many people take the time to listen to what you’re looking for.”
Having traveled extensively and lived in both urban and rural settings in three Canadian provinces as well as several years in Europe and Asia, Evelyn Beeby has a wide basis for comparison. As a result, when she calls Tillsonburg “an oasis of civility,” it’s not a compliment without context.
“It’s amazing how many people take the time to listen to what you’re looking for,” says Evelyn, who resides in the town’s adult lifestyle community of Baldwin Place. She credits the area’s low-stress environment for the exceptional customer service of local merchants.
“I once went downtown with five errands – to the bank, pharmacy, grocery store, bake shop and a decorating store,” she relates to make her point. “At each and every place I went, people took the time to be pleasant and helpful.”
At the shop that supplied her home’s hardwood floors, a cleaning product was offered at no cost. The bakery display wasn’t showcasing a favourite item, so the attendant happily found it in the back. She was noticed by her banker at the ATM and was offered the account update she’d been waiting for without asking…and on it went.
“It was a magical morning where everyone went above and beyond to be helpful. I asked myself, ‘where am I?’ They’re busy, too!”
With friends and family spread across the country and beyond, she and husband Graham were looking for a setting “where we could put down roots” after more than a dozen moves in their married lives.
“We did quite a lot of research,” she says. “With family in both the east and the west, we explored from Vancouver Island to the Maritimes. A price point that fit into their budget and allowed for a desired lifestyle was important, she recalls, as was the weather. Since the couple did not plan to go south for the winter, a moderate climate was ideal.
Evelyn even went to the local church a couple of times to ensure it was welcoming, looked into the politics of the area, checked out the local hospital and spoke to the Baldwin Place builder.
“It was like a puzzle and the pieces all came together.”
Evelyn and Graham moved into Baldwin Place in the spring of 2010.
“Tillsonburg is large enough to have everything you need on a daily basis, but small enough never to be caught in a traffic jam,” she smiles. And while the larger centres are close by to offer more specialized amenities (the nearby Stratford Festival is a particular favourite for these theatre lovers, but they don’t mind the longer jaunt to Toronto either), the farm-belt setting provides an abundance of farm-fresh produce available nearby at the garden gate.
A baking and canning aficionado who makes her own bread from the ancient grain she sources from the nearby miller, Evelyn shares her home-made goodies with her four children and their families who are spread out between London, England, and Seattle.
“Farm to fork is really terrific – and it’s a fun way to connect with grandchildren,” she smiles.
My daughter says, ‘thanks Mom for letting them know that store-bought jam isn’t as good!’”
Lucky big-city friends got their own taste of rustic refinement when she bottled up some honey fresh from a local apiary, topped the jar with a square of bee-print cotton and presented it with a handcrafted holiday card and a wish for a “sweet” Christmas.
While she’s embraced her new lifestyle, she hasn’t stepped too far away from her previous one.
With a career background in human resources and volunteer experience that spans many organizational boards of directors¸ Evelyn likes to gives back where she can. Not long after moving in, she attended the annual general meeting of the community residents’ association, asked a few questions and soon found herself nominated to the board. She is currently finishing up the last few months of her four-year term, the last three as president, where she has employed her knowledge of governance, policies and other foundational work for the growing community.
“It’s a huge job. As president, you’re an ex officio member of all committees,” she considers. “But it’s work I like to do. I’m not a sit-and-do-nothing kind of person. I joke that when they close the lid on me, I’ll ask ‘could I have a seconder for that motion?’”
Keeping busy, making a difference, and still in training to learn to say “NO”, Evelyn also continues to accept a few professional HR opportunities …keeping mentally and physically fit is very important to her.
“We’re all cut with a different piece of cloth, I guess.”
In her spare time – which she insists she has, Evelyn is involved in her church, and enjoys crafts, cards and aquafit at Baldwin Place’s clubhouse. She also continues to travel with Graham who also likes to help out, garden and share a pot of tea with his whirlwind wife.
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