Adaptability and Thriving on Adversity


Château la Motte

Adaptability is one of the most important skills we need to survive and thrive in the rapidly changing 21st Century.

Much is written about change and the need to accept change, embrace change, even welcome change. But ideas for adapting to changes don’t seem to get the same attention.

It’s similar to saying that people should follow healthier lifestyles without explaining the benefits of a healthier diet, exercise, stopping smoking and moderate alcohol consumption.

For those of us who have moved to North America or Europe from a different part of the world, adaptability is vitally important. Without it we would not survive. We have to adapt to a different version of English, driving on the “wrong” side of the road, different customs, conventions and etiquette. For those who do not have English as their first language, it is an even bigger challenge.

I met Alida Joubert at a recent event in Woodstock, she and her husband Francois demonstrate how their adaptability skills have opened up new opportunities, led them to a new city and into a completely new business.

In 2012 they left South Africa where they had worked at one of the largest universities in the country. They moved to Oakville, near Toronto. Sticking to what they knew, they found jobs at a local university.

After those jobs came to an end, still relatively new to Canada and in their early 50s, they had limited conventional career options.

An example of adaptability

South Africans and Rhodesians were among the most adaptable people in the world, we had to be to survive a harsh climate, terrorism and sanctions.


Gracious Living

Alida and Francois purchased a historic mansion in Woodstock and named it the Château la Motte Guest House. It is much more than a bed and breakfast it is a journey back in time. The building and garden provide an ideal setting for wedding, anniversary or special birthday photographs. Small conferences or family events can also be accommodated in style and complete privacy.

The house was built in 1895 by Thomas “Carbide” Willson who developed a system for producing acetylene and patented the first electric arc lamp. He built the house in Woodstock for his mother. He also built workshops and mills for producing phosphate fertiliser in other parts of Ontario.

The house is built in the Richardsonian Romanesque style. It has high turrets and a red slate roof. It is a listed historic site. situated on the corner of Vansittart Avenue and Admiral Street.


Exquisite Decor and Furnishings

Alida and Francois took Sue and I on a tour of their magnificent mansion. It was a journey back to an era when gracious living had been elevated to an art form. Beautifully restored and decorated, with a mix of period and tastefully chosen furniture from more recent periods. Wonderfully well-preserved woodwork, curved balconies and exquisite views from the five en-suite bedrooms.

The bedrooms are named after Francois and Alida’s family, the Fouche room, the Le Roux room among others. Names that reminded me of my life in South Africa and Rhodesia, fond memories of school and army friends, neighbours and acquaintances with those names.

More reminders of my earlier life from the South African books in the library, pieces of South African furniture that survived the move to Canada.

A measure of my adaptability that those reminiscences are now tucked away in a special part of my mind. Rarely brought out for touches of nostalgia, but close enough that an afternoon with new friends from that world instantly transported me back to that life.

Congratulations to Alida and Francois for taking bold steps into their new venture, providing a beautiful venue for travellers wanting more than a regular hotel and for preserving a historic Woodstock Landmark.

That’s adaptability, and a great example of thriving on adversity.

How adaptable are you?

p.s. To book a night, a weekend, a photographic session, or an event in this charming mansion or to find out more about Château la Motte visit the website at the link above or phone Alida at 1-647-783-4440.


photos courtesy of Dudek Photography

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