If you venture up the stairs towards the corner of Canterbury Manor, you’ll see beautiful wall hangings of a bright sunflower scene that’s as cheery as the resident who made it.
The lovely creation is by 90–year-old Wilma Drummond, a three-and-a-half-year resident of the Manor, who has spent a lifetime mastering crafting and doll making.
‘In our home, money wasn’t as important as family,” says Wilma with a smile.
Wilma is a former kindergarten teacher who was married to her loving late husband Fred for many years.
“Early on we decided my husband would work at the bank, and I would stay home to look after our babies, and that’s when I took up my sewing and hobbies which I enjoyed immensely.”
As her three boys grew up Wilma became a popular local wedding dress designer through word of mouth.
“The young ladies would come to me with a picture and tell me what they wanted, and I would whip it up,” she laughs.
She created many dresses over the years, and one of Wilma’s biggest joys was designing and sewing all three of her daughter-in-laws wedding gowns.
Wilma’s talents run deep. She points out a family heirloom on her apartment table.
“Mother was very artistic, she designed that lamp and painted it when she was in her 70’s,” she says proudly. “Growing up in Winnipeg, my dad would make the molds from different plates, bowls, and my mother would paint them. Then she started doing small porcelain figures, and that’s how I got into those.”
Wilma’s creative skills took further shape later in her life when she tried doll making on the suggestion of her twin sister Donna. The pair took a class on how to make life like porcelain dolls. Wilma still lights up, explaining the process.
“The teacher poured the molds, and she had a kiln at her house, we would do the painting and finishing touches of eyes, teeth and wigs and then of course I would make the clothes.”
Wilma estimates she made over an impressive 100 dolls in the six years of her hobby!
“We used to buy the doll magazines” she adds, “My husband was very enthusiastic and supportive about wanting to see me happy doing this. He would sometimes pick out the dolls that he wanted me to make too.”
Many beautiful dolls are on colourful display throughout Wilma’s cozy apartment. There’s Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn by the front door, a variety of smaller delicate dolls in the cabinet, and a few friendly figures on the floor. “They all have their own unique personality and names,” she explains, “I would say the yellow Sea Captain is my favourite.”
Wilma has a lovely sewing room with all her notions, and a sewing machine she still uses for the odd quilting project. These days though, she’s enjoying her time relaxing and reflecting at Canterbury. She and her husband Fred were able to live independently in their west Edmonton home for many years and moved over to Canterbury a few years back.
“We had a wonderful life, and it was a foregone conclusion that we’d end up here” says Wilma.
Fred actually had a very important role in the original construction of the Manor over 25 years ago. The couple were valued members of their Anglican Church that was connected to Canterbury, and he was asked to get involved on the Canterbury Board. Fred jumped at the chance and was excited to be involved in the Manor development. Later, as a resident, he was also the vice president of the association, and thoroughly enjoyed living in the community.
“Before my husband was sick and passed away, many times we would sit right here on the chesterfield overlooking the beautiful garden, and he would make the comment to me, “I’m just so happy we’re here.” “Yes,” smiles Wilma, “we had a wonderful time together in our Canterbury home.”
While she greatly misses her devoted husband, Wilma has found strength in her sons growing families including seven grandchildren, ten great-grandchildren, and two more on the way.
She also maintains a positive attitude and has built strong friendships at Canterbury.
“There are many residents originally from St. Timothy’s Anglican Church parish who know each other,” she explains. “I have been able to make many friends at Canterbury that are just very special people to me. I feel that they are a big part of my life now. Other friends still come to visit and that’s wonderful. But these people here are the close ones and it’s important to get a good feeling for those that you’re always around.”
“A new lady moved not too long ago, and when I was going past her door she opened it. So I stopped to talk to her and introduced myself – as you just know that she might need a friend,” says Wilma. “We chatted for a few minutes, which she really appreciated. She said she hadn’t met many people and was so glad to meet me – to hear that kind of thing is very nice, it just cements a good feeling in your heart.”
From sharing her beautiful creative sewing and doll making talents to caring deeply for family and community, we are blessed to have a wonderful Canterbury Manor resident like Wilma Drummond. She is a devoted friend, and a lovely, genuine person who brightens peoples’ days, spreads good cheer and is truly cut from a very special cloth!