New Housing Choices
for a New Age

Radical Resthomes concept explained at Women’s Canadian Club lecture

By Byron Toben

About 200 members of the Women’s Canadian Club of Montreal assembled for their monthly lecture series at Victoria Hall in Westmount. February’s subject was Radical Resthomes: new housing choices for a new age. The speaker was Janet Torge, producer and writer.

Janet Torge

Janet Torge

Her skills as a former radio announcer served her well as she clearly and engagingly explained a growing problem and how a do it yourself approach might alleviate the situation for some.

Today’s seniors – many raised during the 60s and 70s era of communes – find problems not faced by previous generations. Family support is dissipated by smaller numbers of children, many living in distant cities or countries, to boot. While there has been a growth of large-scale institutional facilities, they are impersonal, burdened with governmental regulations, pet restrictions and the like.

So the solution, my friends, is not blowing in the wind, but some sort of do-it-yourself planning.


Much of her concern was directed at the “baby seniors”, aged 55 to 75, still active enough to plan ahead for self or relatives. Compounding the problem are, for many, the fears of outliving their private pensions, if they have any, and the inadequacy of government pensions alone. Some sort of community cooperation is needed to avoid being ‘warehoused’ in declining years.

So the solution, my friends, is not blowing in the wind, but some sort of do-it-yourself planning.

Ms. Torge described in words and photos, several operating examples of a revolution in rest homes. Examples of co-housing were distinguished from government and private co-operatives. Examples of mixed age groups, gender affiliation, religious persuasion, may all work given the right motivation. Practical problems of legal framework and emergency health care can be worked out, but the key is finding the right housemates to look after each other.

To this end, the Radical Resthomes movement holds a series of workshops. In some ways, this smacks of a dating game.

Recently they have obtained a small building where potentials can live rent-free for a month to try it out before going further.

For more details, visit


Images: the LILAC co-housing community in Leeds, UK – White Design architects

Byron Toben is the immediate past-president of the Montreal Press Club.

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