Homecoming: Marnie’s Story

The year is 1938 in Brantford, Ontario. Children from grades two through eight play in their wool school clothes, re-arranging desks in their one-room schoolhouse, kept warm by the cozy basement furnace. A shared learning space, Tranquility School was a hub for the community too, hosting bridge games, square dancing and fairs in the summer. It was a place where everyone knew each other, and community meant family.

A new era for a former student

This is Marnie Freeborn’s story. Born at Brantford BGH Hospital with no brothers or sisters, she once lived on a 20-acre farm with one cow, one horse, chickens and pigs. At the age of six, she started attending Tranquility School. Some days started with a mile-and-a-half walk to the school, and other days, a big grey Cadillac would pick her up bright and early.

Once there, she would be under the tutelage of her teachers—one of whom she remembers very fondly, Mrs. McConachie. “By the 1940s, teachers could be married women,” Marnie explains. “So when I was a little older, I had the wonderful opportunity to give back to Mrs. McConachie by babysitting for her.”

Though schoolwork was Marnie’s least favourite part of Tranquility School, the number of fond memories she has are endless. From playing basketball at recess to helping the smaller children, Marnie even won a prize for “best writing”—and more than once, at that!

Back to where it all began

Eighty-four years later, Marnie has returned home. She calls Chartwell Tranquility Place home, the very site of her former school. When making the decision to move to her retirement residence, Marnie was, in a way, reunited with someone special—her six-year-old self. To this day, she can still name every single classmate in her old photo.

The landscape may have changed and even the busyness of the area, but rooted in Chartwell Tranquility Place are formative memories that fill her heart with happiness and warmth.

They say home is where the heart is, and for Marnie, it is right here in Brantford. Thank you, Marnie, for making us part of your story.