A devotee of Dalnavert, volunteer work began with the Festival du Voyageur




One of the places Joanne Roach feels most comfortable was built over 125 years ago.

Roach volunteers at the Dalnavert Museum, the National Historic Site located at 61 Carlton Street. It was the Winnipeg residence of Sir Hugh John Macdonald, son of the first Prime Minister of Canada, Sir John A. Macdonald.

One of the finest Victorian-era mansions in Winnipeg, the museum is furnished to look like it would have looked when Macdonald had it built in 1895.

“This is my happy place,” says Roach, who volunteers his time to tour the museum and help with special events. “Interacting with people who come to visit us is always wonderful. It’s just a lot of fun.”

The 61-year-old Saint-Boniface resident is an avid volunteer who first became involved with Dalnavert in the fall of 2015. That same year, she also began volunteering with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in as a Fan Ambassador – the group of volunteers who help with things like ticketing and grand opening on game days and at special events.

“I have two brothers who both played soccer, so I grew up in a family of sports people,” Roach says. “When I first started volunteering with the Bombers I just wanted to be there all the time. Again, it was that interaction with people. You can make great friendships and it’s really rewarding to be able to help someone. ”

Roach turned to volunteering to cope with the death of her husband, Frank, in July 2014, following a short battle with esophageal cancer. He was 53 years old.

Roach remembers Frank’s great sense of humor and notes that he worked hard in his job as a maintenance manager at an elderly care center. He was also a loving father and grandfather who took care of the people around him.

The couple met in April 1979, when they were still teenagers and tied the knot in November.

Joanne Roach, left with Jeannie Hiebert and Calla Lofvendahl, has been volunteering at the Dalnavert Museum since 2015.

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Joanne Roach, left with Jeannie Hiebert and Calla Lofvendahl, has been a volunteer at the Dalnavert Museum since 2015.

“We went through it all together,” Roach says. “He was my life, he really was. Now it’s been seven years and it still hurts. It’s still fresh.”

After Frank died, Roach’s son suggested she get involved with the Festival du Voyageur in order to keep busy. It was a natural fit for Roach, whose mother was Métis and whose father was French Canadian. The experience made her addicted to volunteering.

Roach volunteers at ManyFest, Jazz Fest, Fringe Festival, and the Assiniboine Park Zoo. She has competed in the FIFA Women’s World Cup and the Canada Summer Games, and she participates in special events at the St-Pierre-Jolys Museum.

“No matter what, I try to volunteer for this,” she says.

Roach has a happy spirit, says Charlene Van Buekenhout, director of programming and marketing at Dalnavert.

“She calls the museum her happy place, and she really exudes that spirit,” Van Buekenhout said. “She really takes care of the people she knows here… It feels like you’re in good hands when you’re with Joanne.”

Jolene Kornelsen, Blue Bombers Volunteer Coordinator, agrees.

“He’s someone I can count on to make sure everything is going well and everyone is taking care of everything,” says Kornelsen. “He’s definitely a very important person to me.”

Roach says she’s motivated to continue volunteering because it makes her happy.

“I always think of Frank when I volunteer,” she says. “Maybe I’m trying to fill a void, but it’s a happy void. I don’t want to be sad anymore.”

If you know of a special volunteer, please contact [email protected]


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