Sounds of music at Dakota House


Advertise with us

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 08/09/2020 (881 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Let it not be thought that we at Dakota House are morose, dispirited and without our moments of rapture during this pandemic. Not at all.

For in the hands of our director of programming, Shelley Jeffs, there has been a constant barrage of inspired activities that have put that retro lilt into our world and genuine pleasure in our hearts. The latest has been the introduction of outdoor entertainment. Take a bow, Shelley.

The first of these performances was given by Cal Wookey. He once attended Varennes School and will remain forever young (a kid) in our memories. But a teacher by profession and, unbelievably, a grandfather now, he lives nearby and came here on a trial basis to see whether we, the clientele, would attend outdoor performances. We never disappoint.

Photo by Anne Yanchyshyn Cal Wookey serenades residents of Dakota House at a safe distance.

The day broke. The sun shone and the skies turned a deep crystalline blue, adorned with irregular cuddly puffs of white which are commonly referred to as clouds. I haven’t enjoyed summer skies this intensely since when I was a little girl and brought my father his lunch as he was cutting hay on our farm. Oh, the sweet smell of freshly mowed hay as I lounged in the shade and imagined sheep and kitten shapes in the clouds overhead.

Back to Cal, as he bravely, unaccompanied, strummed his guitar and serenaded us with songs we had enjoyed in our heydays in the 1950s and beyond. Uncanny that he knows them, but we’re only one generation apart, and popular songs were available to everyone who enjoyed popular music.

Here’s how Cal answered me about performing outside: “I cherish it. I love it. It’s good for the residents and it’s good for me. Of course it’s safer than big gatherings indoors. More than three-quarters of my ‘shows’ now are outdoors. I look forward to coming back to the outdoors of Dakota House again.”

Shelley also had Cal do a successful stint in the courtyard for those facing north. Thank you, Cal — you started a trend.

Our next guest was Cindi Cain, twice. She had the fountain area as background and performed professionally as her powerful voice and feet bounced and swayed to the music. This she has done in the past at our antique auto shows while the guests wandered around admiring how the owners had converted old wrecks into such marvellous showpieces. Again, the singer was attuned to what we tenants prefer, and she delivered with gusto such lilts as Bye, Bye, Love by the Everly Bros., Crazy by Patsy Cline, Que Sera, Sera, and many other favourites.

Shelley is making good choices on our behalf. We definitely look ahead to more such prizes and surprises.

Anne Yanchyshyn is a community correspondent for St. Vital. Email her at

Anne Yanchyshyn

Anne Yanchyshyn
St. Vital community correspondent

Anne Yanchyshyn is a community correspondent for St. Vital.

Report Error Submit a Tip


Advertise With Us