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Loreena McKennitt

Background

The genesis of the Falstaff Family Centre lies in a decision in 2000 by the Avon Maitland District School Board to close the Falstaff Public School and sell the building at auction. Concerned by its potential destruction, Stratford-based singer/composer Loreena McKennitt purchased the property privately, in order to preserve its historic relevance and to provide the community with time to decide on its future use, seeing herself as the interim steward of the facility for which the ultimate goal is public ownership.

Since then the Falstaff Family Centre building has undergone significant structural improvements, and become a model for converting redundant public buildings for community use. It was made fully accessible, with the installation of ramps, a chairlift and an elevator, and has also been equipped with a brand new state-of-the-art catering kitchen. In addition, the 1929 neo-Gothic building received Ontario Heritage designation in January, 2001.

Following the purchase in November of 2000, extensive consultations within the community were undertaken to determine how the new facility could best serve the community's needs. The Falstaff Family Centre is the result; a thriving community centre and registered charity that has seen over 700 people come though its doors each week.

Through the years Falstaff Family Centre has housed a complementary mixture of permanent programs and annual events and hosted an array of visiting activities. Long term tenants have included: Family Services Perth Huron, The Foundations Program, The Literacy Network, Kindermusik, a Snoezelen Room and the enormously popular Early Years Centre, which offers a variety of free learning opportunities for children from birth to age six as well as support for parents and caregivers
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