Two current clients of St. Martin’s Manor cut the celebratory cake for the 60th anniversary. Photo by Tony Gosgnach

60 years of helping moms

By  Tony Gosgnach, Catholic Register Special
  • September 18, 2014

HAMILTON, ONT. - Christine Beaumont was 16, pregnant and “a little rebellious” when she arrived at Hamilton’s St. Martin’s Manor in 1978. 

Thanks to the residence for young mothers and their children, as well as later adoptive parents, she gave birth to a daughter, and the child received a better start on life. Today Beaumont’s baby is a 35-year-old woman “doing very well” and married in Toronto. 

Beaumont and her daughter are just two of almost 7,000 young women and their children who have been helped by the Manor during its 60-year existence, a milestone that was celebrated with a reunion and open house on Sept. 10. Current and past staff and clients, as well as Catholic and political dignitaries and members of the community, joined in feting the Manor on its accomplishments. 

Beaumont observed a lot has changed over the decades both at the Manor and society at large since she needed use of its services. Today many young women no longer feel that putting their children up for adoption is their only choice. 

“If it wasn’t for (the Manor), I don’t know what I would have done,” Beaumont said. “Really. Young and pregnant in 1979 at 16, what do you do? You leave school, you stay at home, you have that kid. Back then, there was not that much support … All I can say is choices, choices, choices. That’s what these girls need is choices and that’s something I didn’t have.” 

Rebecca Smith came to the Manor in 2008 after getting pregnant at 15. She has since graduated from high school and is living on her own with her son, while expecting a sister for him this December. 

“I was very thankful to have St. Martin’s Manor and all the staff and the support that I was given. One of the youth support workers was in the delivery room with me when I had my son and welcomed him into the world.” 

At the open house, current and future mothers Jill, Dana, Shar and Erin read a letter they composed to their babies, while Katrina read a poem entitled “Angels” that she composed especially for the 60th anniversary. 

Hamilton Auxiliary Bishop Daniel Miehm presented the staff with the certificate of a special apostolic blessing from Pope Francis, while representatives of the municipal, provincial and federal governments, including Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina, presented certificates of recognition and congratulations. 

Paula Forbes, associate director for programs and services at Catholic Family Services, said that although much has changed at the Manor over the years, including improvements and expansions, and through many tears of joy and sorrow, she believes it is still the home-like, caring place the School Sisters of Notre Dame envisioned when they opened it in 1954. 

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