The Bethany Group to Commemorate its Roots

Posted on April 12, 2018

In 1922, the Lutheran Church in Bawlf recognized the plight of elderly immigrants in the area. The seniors had no families and weren’t able to take care of themselves or their own homes or farms. In Lutheran tradition, the Church and parish decided to take action, purchasing the vacant hospital and turning it into a home for the elderly - the Bethany Old People’s Home. These are the roots of The Bethany Group and though the organization has grown and moved, it still holds true to its origins.

The Home was popular, especially as the economic downturn took its toll. To run the Home, a Board of Charities was created who oversaw the operations and residency of the Home. While rents were low, the Board also relied on the communities/parishes to support residents, especially those from outside of the Bawlf area. They also received land and farms to help support operations. Quite often, the farms weren’t as successful as everyone hoped and was in turn sold in order to continue funding the Home.

The staff included a Matron who took on the duties of caring for the seniors, including cooking, cleaning and a variety of other tasks. She was helped by a few other staff members who worked together to run the Home.

Around 10 years before their move to Camrose, the Board started looking for a new home. More and more seniors were approaching them for care and the Home couldn’t house everyone. Their search for a new home wasn’t just centred on Camrose but also included Edmonton and Saskatchewan.

Finally, in the 40s, the Board made a deal with the town of Camrose to purchase land and begin construction on the Sunset Home with a well attended opening in the late summer of 1949. In August of that year, 17 residents from the Home in Bawlf made the move to their new home in Camrose.

A new Board was created with some of the original members to guide the expanded services in Camrose. Interestingly enough, a few members from the old Board were appointed to a new Board in Saskatchewan in 1950 to establish a Home for the Aged there.

The Bethany Old People’s Home in Bawlf found yet another purpose as a school, housing three classrooms until the new school opened in 1950.

It wasn’t until 2012 that The Bethany Group returned to Bawlf when it assumed management of Sanden Court. While it may not have operated in the community for many years, it never forgot its roots.

The building the itself may be long gone but the spot where the Bethany Old People’s Home was located has been marked with a commemorative monument on the corner of the Bawlf school property (the corner of Alberta Avenue and King Street). On Friday, April 27th at 1:00 p.m., The Bethany Group will be joined by the school and several dignitaries to officially commemorate the monument. Afterwards, everyone will gather at the Lutheran Church for cake and refreshments. Residents from Bawlf, Camrose and the surrounding area are invited to join us as we celebrate our roots.

If the weather does not hold up, the official ceremony will be moved to the Lutheran Church. For more information, please contact Chantal Beesley at 780-679-3066.