News Local

Hand grenades in seniors' home

Cheryl Browne

By Cheryl Browne, Barrie Examiner

Only thinking of the welfare of those around her, Pam Story gingerly picked up the hand grenade and carried it outside to the fountain.

Not the usual way a general manager starts her day at a seniors' home, but it wasn't to be the last bit of excitement of the day.

Several more grenades were found inside the Essa Road retirement home less than an hour later.

"I did bring it outside, yes," Story shrugged, embarrassed about being considered brave. "I was just thinking of the safety of the residents. I had to make sure they were all safe."

Barrie police had responded to the call of a 'bomb device' at Roberta Place Retirement Lodge shortly after 9:40 a.m., Tuesday.

After cordoning off the large circular driveways, Const. Mike Ross said they found the hollowed-out hand grenade near the pond where Story had left it.?Although the incendiary material had been removed, the pin and fuse were still connected.

"It would leave a bad burn if the fuse was ignited," Ross said. "It wouldn't be a large explosion like when they're full of gun powder, but it could be a small explosion which isn't great, either."

Careful to store the military-grade grenade in the tactical truck, he had no sooner started to remove the caution tape surrounding the fountain when Story advised him that more grenades had been found in the adjacent nursing home.

After visiting a few rooms, Const. John Lamont confirmed that they had found "several" more hollowed-out grenades.

"One resident was using them as bookends," he said. "They're all safe, but to the untrained eye, you'd never know it. And that's a concern."

All grenades found at the home are considered military property and would be returned to CFB Borden, he said.

Ruth Blaicher, who had dropped in to see her parents at the lodge, said she was shocked to hear of the explosives at the home.

"I guess some of the residents do keep old memorabilia," Blaicher said. "I guess they don't understand it could harm someone."

Lamont said they've received a handful of calls this year from people who'd found grenades and didn't know how to dispose of them.

"Some people keep them as souvenirs," Lamont said. "These gentlemen fought in the war for us. They pass away and their memorabilia gets left behind."

Lamont said the military wasn't so strict in the 1940s, but there's an entirely different protocol today. "You won't see guys bringing them back from Afghanistan these days."

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