Frank Gulenchyn spent the last six years building a dream home for his wife in Portapique, Nova Scotia.
The couple bought 12 acres of land and planned to spend their retirement in the coastal town, hosting family and enjoying the hospitality of east coasters.
It was a dream that was decades in the making, and it was shattered within a blink of an eye.
“I can just picture my dad’s face when he saw her come down for the first time and he knew, like, she’s here for good,” explained son Jon Farrington.
“For her to finally reach her dream to have it taken away just six months later, it’s horrifying.”
The Gulenchyns are two of at least 23 victims killed when a gunman went on a deadly shooting rampage, lighting fires along the way as the 51-year old wreaked havoc on northern Nova Scotia before he was taken down by the RCMP at a gas station in Enfield N.S., about 35 kilometres away from the provincial capital.
He, along with his brother, Ryan, have had to send DNA samples to the RCMP in an effort to assist with the investigation.
In all, police say they’re combing through five houses, looking for remains and clues as to what transpired over the weekend.
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“She was really that big part of my life that I was able to enjoy time with her and introduce her to my kids,” explains Jenni Arnold, the couple’s granddaughter.
A GoFundMe campaign has been set up in support of the family, and more than $12,000 has been raised to help alleviate some of the financial burden associated with the tragedy.
Meanwhile, flags have been lowered across Durham Region to honour the family and those impacted by the tragedy.
“There’s no words that can really express how we feel; we are just absolutely devastated. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family,” said Dan Carter, Mayor of Oshawa.
Dawn worked as a dietary aid at Hillsdale Terrace in Oshawa. Her colleagues remember her as the kind of woman who genuine and told it like it was.
“She is definitely missed by every department in this building,” explained Spatzie Dublin over Zoom.
“We were members of her family. That’s not taking anything away from her husband who she loved dearly. It’s sad to say that she’s gone but I think the one thing that gave me some satisfaction was that she was there with her husband and had that time.”
Police, fire and paramedics did a drive-by of Jon’s Oshawa home, a show of support and solidarity for the family who are working to come to grips with their loss.
“I spent hours last night watching the videos — it was just truly touching,” added Jon.