Downtown Montreal seniors' home Fulford Residence to close after more than 150 years

A downtown Montreal seniors' home for women that has been around since before Confederation has announced it's closing, heartbreaking news for many residents there.

"It was – is – a unique place, and a family," said Mary Ramsey, a 91-year-old resident.

First opened in 1864, it has been at its current location at 1221 Guy St. since 1890.

The recent past has not been kind to the Fulford. After managing to keep the COVID-19 virus at bay for almost a year, in January, there was a serious outbreak. Within two weeks, almost everyone there, including the staff, was infected. Ten of the 31 residents died.

"It was just like a nitrogen bomb," said Ramsey.

It badly damaged the home’s financial health too, with a third of the rooms now empty.

"First of all, with COVID, it’s very hard. People are keeping their families, their mother, aunt, loved ones, at home," said Fulford director Marie-France Lacoste.

Paul Murphy works in maintenance and loves his job, especially the long conversations with the people who call the place home. 

"Each lady had an amazing story. So much history. Amazing stories, amazing lives, and I get to be such a small part of their life here," he said. 

He'll be out of a job there in six months.

Residents have been advised they’ll need to move by September. Some families are rallying to find another solution, perhaps involving government funding.

"What can we do as a community to try to keep it going? Are there public supports we can have?" said Chris Holcroft, son of a resident. 

For Ramsay, it's especially hard. She volunteered there for about 20 years before becoming a resident. 

"I have not regretted it. It’s with sadness. However in life, we move on," she said.

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