In 1904, Grey County built the state-of-the-art House of Refuge just south of Markdale for the county's "poor, old, and friendless folk." Frederick Gee, one of the first residents, wrote a newspaper column documenting events there, from 1904 to 1907. Today, John Butler, a retired health service planner, has gathered these columns into a new book titled House of Refuge. He provides a fascinating look at the lives and conditions of those early residents over a century ago.The House of Refuge was built at a total cost of $30,000. It was a remarkable building for those times with a reception room, dining room, sitting rooms, dormitories for males and females, sick wards, a dayroom for the elderly and feeble, and a doctor's dispensary; it even had electricity and a telephone!

In transcribing Frederick Gee's newspaper columns, John Butler says he became intrigued by this facility. "The House of Refuge reflects a care and compassion for those who needed help over a century ago," he says. "This place, financed by the county and the townships, took in those who had no place else to go. If the residents could contribute financially to their upkeep, they did; some residents were also able to contribute by helping with the chores. However, no one was turned away, regardless of their financial status."

The House of Refuge was built on the site of the current Grey Gables. It evolved from a home for the destitute to a home for the aged. In 2017, Grey County developed plans to divest itself of the facility, but a successful community campaign to save it has ensured its future: Grey Gables will survive and expand with 63 more beds.

The House of Refuge ($30) is now available instore at The Ginger Press in downtown Owen Sound, and online at

source: media release, Ginger Press



CopyRight ©2015, ©2016, ©2017 of Hub Content
is held by content creators