Local director fights for better quality of life for community members

BARRY’S BAY – An artist, a caregiver and a therapist. 
Those words only begin to describe Activities Director for the Water Tower Lodge Jude Crossland. 
When she was just a teenager, she began work in a chronic care facility in Newmarket, her hometown.
Back then, she really had no idea that a recreational therapist position existed. 
“More of the activities in any type of a facility were administered by nurses or occupational therapists,” she explained. 
So, she soon left her part-time job and embarked on a new journey. 
“I believed my true calling was to be an artist,” she said. 
Crossland enrolled in Sheridan College and graduated with knowledge and experience in textiles, drawing and photography, craft and design. 
It wasn’t long after, Crossland decided she wanted to teach. So, she went and got certified in adult education and leadership. 
“Strangely enough, my career in teaching began at Canadore College where I taught recreational type art and leisure.”
In those days, there was the overwhelming notion that the workweeks were going to get shorter, Crossland explained. 
“Obviously, they didn’t” she laughed. “If anything they got longer.” 
But that was the way it was, she said. As a result of, a larger group of people were interested in more leisure time. 
With her leadership and artistic abilities, for about two years Crossland taught at Canadore College in North Bay. She used her textile skills and knowledge, and passion for art to help people. 
Along the way, she offered a variety of workshops and courses too, as she has done all her life. 
However, eventually, Crossland decided she might like to travel. 
“I applied for a bursary from the Ontario Arts Council and I received it.”
Along Crossland went. Embarking on new journeys, travelling abroad. Amongst her travels, she began studying doll making. She met lots of fellow artists too and began studying with them. 
After gathering an abundance of more information and techniques, Crossland ended up making a stop in Whales. 
This was when she began teaching at Newport College. 
After a short while, Crossland returned closer to home. She opened a studio in Toronto and met her lifelong partner in Bracebridge. 
After meeting her match, Crossland and her partner soon decided they would make the move to the Madawaska Valley. 
For almost 30 years, together they ran a studio in Brudenell called Windy Ridge Studios. 
Crossland’s’ work went worldwide, some of it to Poland, some to England. In the midst of running the studio, Crossland also travelled across the province and taught workshops abroad. 
But at some point, something prompted a little change, Crossland explained. 
It was as if her whole life was almost piecing together, her experiences blending, without her knowing it. 
Back then, it wasn’t exactly easy being an artist either and making a living, the activities director said. As time progressed actually, it became harder and harder, she said. 
Read more in the October 23, 2013 issue of The Valley Gazette.