A walk in the park for Oak Bay group

Carlton House group exploring Greater Victoria one step at a time

Carlton House residents Jayne Finney

Carlton House residents Jayne Finney

As the saying goes, March comes in like a lion.

Fortunately for a half dozen Carlton House residents, that was not the case this year.

They’re part of a weekly walking group which gathers each Thursday to explore Oak Bay on foot, and as the calendar turned last week it was a beautiful day for a stroll.

“The first program I started when I got here six years ago was the walking group, because I just love to walk,” says Rowena Hendriks, manager of leisure services at Carlton House.

The group numbers as many as 12 at times, though at this time of year some members are away on holidays. Each week they head out on a different route – last week’s took them along Bowker Creek and eventually to the Oak Bay Marina.

“Oak Bay is always a lovely place to walk because of the gardens,” says Grace Telford, 95, who has been taking part in the weekly constitutionals since they first began. “One of the early settlers,” she jokes.

“Rowena finds interesting places that we don’t know about. She’s a very knowledgeable leader, and knows a great deal about birds and plants,” says Telford.

Some of the group’s favourite walking routes include Willows Beach to Cattle Point, Laurel Point/Fisherman’s Wharf and the University of Victoria’s Finnerty Gardens.

There are many benefits to being in the group, and each member has their own reasons for participating.

“It gives me exercise,” says 88-year-old Elisabeth Wilson, the group’s newest member, who moved to Carlton House two months ago.

“I like the social interaction best of all,” says Bill King, 83, who on this day is the lone man in the bunch. The full group is typically about one-quarter male, according to Hendriks.

For Jayne Finney, Thursdays are an opportunity for some company. Finney, another original group member, heads out on her own on most other days. “I walk a lot – I often walk to the track (at Oak Bay Recreation Centre) and do laps around it,” says Finney, 90.

The walks are a great way to strengthen a sense of community among the Carlton House residents, and it’s great for their overall well-being as well, Hendriks says.

“Going on outings is a good way of getting to know a small group of people.

“Walking is a very therapeutic thing.”

Elinor Powell, 84, agrees.

“Walking at your own pace is one thing, but going with company is an added plus.”