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Barrie senior turns his passion for music into a legacy for his loved ones


A resident at Barrie's Amica Little Lake Retirement Home has turned his passion for music into a legacy for his loved ones.

Ron Benwell is one of five from Amica's 32 locations across Canada chosen to participate in the Lyrics and Legacies Project, now in its second year.

It's a program that teams up with the Corporation of Roy Thomson Hall & Massey Hall, pairing songwriters with seniors to turn their life stories into songs.

"When the song was finished I dedicated it to my daughter, her husband and my two grandchildren," said Benwell. "The song basically is covering some of my married life. She was everything. She's been gone 17 and a half years."

Ron Benwell, of Barrie, Ont., visits Massey Hall (Courtesy: Amica Little Lake)

Bringing his passion to life, Toronto-based singer-songwriter Sarah Hiltz helped Benwell pour his memories into a song called Strathavon Drive, the name of the street where he spent much of his life with his wife and two children.

"This is a really great opportunity for us to enhance their lives, to help them share their stories and develop their legacy for their families," said Laura Wright, community relations director with Amica Little Lake.

Ron Benwell works on his song in studio. (Courtesy: Amica Little Lake)

While it may be the first time Ron helped write a song, he's been singing in choir much of his life.

When he was 10, he performed on stage at Massey Hall, a place he recently had the chance to revisit.

"It's changed so much with all the renovations and improvements, but it was nice going and seeing it," said Benwell.

He said the experience stirred up old memories, just like the ones in his song, now a legacy for his children.

"For the residents to be able to share their stories, it's not just inspiring for them but also for the young people who get to hear them," said Wright.

Proof that pursuing your passion never goes out of style. Top Stories

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