Bourgeois family honours parents with gift to Roger's House

After losing their father Matt in 2010, sisters Cheryl and Paulette Bourgeois decided they wanted to do something to honour the memory of their parents. Mother Freda had passed away three years earlier but both parents had left a lasting, positive impression on the sisters, and on Paulette’s two children Natalie and Gordon Urquhart.

Although Matt and Freda had started out in Winnipeg, which was home for many years, the family had also travelled around Canada living in Calgary, Ottawa and Montreal. Matt, often described as a real gentleman, worked for Revenue Canada rising through the ranks to become Director-General. Freda devoted herself to raising her girls but also found time to co-found two businesses stemming from her interest and proficiency with sewing. The two sisters benefitted immensely from their parents’ various interests and passions while growing up. Paulette eventually settled in Toronto and became a successful author. Cheryl settled in Ottawa and followed more in her mother’s career footsteps. She became a successful business woman continuing the BouClair House of Fabric stores her mother had co-founded years earlier in Montreal. Matt and Freda eventually settled in Ottawa in 1997 to be closer to family and friends.

Matt spent his retirement enjoying his many hobbies and interests but also found time to volunteer at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO). It could almost be said that Freda never really retired because even while working, she had and continued to give her life to others. She was passionate about making a difference and contributed to social programs around the world. She also volunteered at both CHEO and the Ottawa Regional Cancer Centre (ORCF) bringing people meals, even when she was sick herself.

Both Paulette and Cheryl have made the health and well-being of children a priority in their lives. Cheryl volunteered with both the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and later Roger’s House before moving up north. When thinking about how to honour their parents they decided that a special gift to a place dedicated to the health and safety of children made good sense.

In Memory of Freda and Matt Bourgeois, the sisters and their respective families made a donation to Roger’s House that allowed for the purchase of two special cribs.

According to Roger’s House manager of palliative care, Marion Rattray, the new cribs represented a change of philosophy that has come about as a result of the experience gained over the past five years while operating the House.


“Originally we wanted everything in the house to be just like a home.” said Rattray who has been involved in Roger’s House right from the beginning. “We went out of our way not to be institutional so that children and families didn’t feel like they were in a hospital.”

What they have learned, however, is that as a result of the acuity of the children they are looking after, they do have to compromise to ensure the best possible care and safety of the children.One of the first children to use the crib was Eliane Bissonnette shown with her parents

“These new cribs were really needed because it is much easier and safer to raise their heads, very important for children that have tracheotomies,” said Rattray. “They have a protective bubble that can be put over them which keeps the child extra safe from falling out and the sliding sides are higher, again good for safety and easier for nursing care.”
Purchasing new or specialized equipment is always a challenge within the Roger’s House operating budget so funding provided by the Sens Foundation allows for these types of new equipment purchases.

Cheryl and Paulette’s family gift to Roger’s House in memory of their parents is a lasting testimony to how important Freda and Matt were, and still are, to their family. They feel happy and proud because they feel their parents would really like the idea of ensuring that children are safe, comfortable, and cared for well.