One resident, Leonard Carlson, at Misericordia Place can often be found with bow-in-hand and instrument-under-chin. 



“He’s really seen as the resident musician,” says recreational therapist Brianna Boyse. “He brightens up spaces by bringing out his viola regularly and playing for his fellow residents.”

Many a birthday party and in-house concert at Misericordia Place have featured Leonard and his viola, an instrument he start playing around the age of 20 after making the switch from violin. 

“He spent his adult years playing in community orchestras and just sharing his passion for music,” says Boyse. “And he has not let that go.” 

When Misericordia Place reached out to the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, principal violist Élise Lavallée was quick to recognize a kindred spirit. 

“Right away I thought ‘Yes! This is my kind of gig,’” says Lavallée who invited Leonard to join in an online Zoom class with some of her mature students, aged 70 plus. 

As it so often happens in Winnipeg — where six degrees of separation seems more like two — a number of the students recognized Leonard, having played with him before. 

“There’s a big body of people in Winnipeg who play and who sing all their lives,” says Lavallée. “They met Len through these various orchestras or chamber music or festivals and all of this very rich musical life.” 

Remaining a part of the community and nurturing passions through collaborative work such as the Zoom concert is vital to the work that Boyse does as a recreational therapist. 

“It gave (Leonard) an opportunity to socialize with peers, with other people who share the same passion as him,” says Boyse. “We try to find ways to keep people involved in their leisure and find meaningful ways for them to spend their time.”

You can learn more about Misericordia Dream Destination initiative here