/ Stories

Stuart Nechako Manor has gone to the birds


Chicken in a chicken coop.
Chickens in their newly constructed coop at Stuart Nechako Manor in Vanderhoof. 

Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to Stuart Nechako Manor, apparently! 

This summer the residents of Stuart Nechako Manor are enjoying farm-fresh eggs and a bit of outdoor activity thanks to a new chicken coop project. Recreation therapist Marnie Bell proposed the project to engage residents in structured daily activities that were hopefully meaningful and give the residents a sense of purpose.  

Planning and organizing for the project began back in winter 2022. The coop was completed and the chickens arrived at the Manor at the end of June 2023. There was no cost to this project. Between the wonderful community donations, all costs were covered.  

Elderly woman painting pieces of wood
Sharron Lund, manor resident, prepping the trim. 

“We have many residents who were farmers in the past and residents who enjoy the taste of a farm-fresh egg,” says Marnie. “This project allows them to engage in a past interest from their life. Having the chicken coop encourages them to be active and engaged in caring for the chickens.” 

The success of teamwork 

A many-hands effort, residents have been involved in the project since the construction phase, and are taking their hard work from coop to plate! The residents work as a team with the Recreation Department to get everything done. They painted the donated coop and trim, instituted a weekly cleaning schedule, take care of daily food and water chores and egg collection, and are even involved in preparing the eggs they harvest.   

In fact, teamwork extends to all of the staff at the Manor.  

“We have a housekeeper who reminds the residents to check the eggs, food, and water on the weekends,” says Marnie. “Nursing staff also work with the residents to make sure they get to the coop daily to check the eggs. It really has been a team approach.”

Two women painting
Residents Angie Werk and Gertrud Feierabend helped get the coop painted. 

The fruits of their labour 

To make the most of all their efforts, the Recreation Department has also started monthly food programming for the residents, so that they can use the eggs in baking, breakfast, and lunch programs. The residents were busy recently making deviled eggs for an afternoon snack – a perfect summer picnic snack.  

When asked what they do with all the eggs, Marnie noted, “If we have extra eggs, we plan to sell them to family or staff and put the money back into feed costs for the chickens.” But for now, they are enjoying the eggs in-house.   

Side view of an outdoor chicken coop
The finished coop, and one of its happy residents.

Summer therapeutic recreation  

In partnership with Prairiedale Heritage farm, the chickens are on loan to the Manor. This means that in the fall, they will return to the farm to stay warm over the winter, and come back in the spring when the snow is off the ground.  

“We plan to have this as a summer therapeutic recreation program for our residents,” Marnie says.   

It wouldn’t have been possible without… 

Stuart Nechako Manor staff and residents would like to thank the sponsors who made this project possible.  

  • Prairiedale Heritage Farm (Dale & Elijah Wiens) – who donated their time to build the coop along with donated chickens for us to use during the summer months.  We have created a wonderful partnership with  
  • Vanderhoof Four Rivers CO-OP – who donated all of the supplies to build the coop, along with food, shavings, and feeders. 
  • CO-OP- Communities in Full Colour – who donated the paint for the coop. 
  • Everything Ewe – who donated $100 to put towards building and food costs.