A Wonderful Woman and Role Model for All
I went for a facial last week. I began doing this several years ago as a treat for myself. I go a few times each year and every time I go, I fondly remember my friend, and role model,Ellen Gaunt.
Ellen Gaunt was in her late eighties when I first met her. We lived in the same apartment complex, and I would see her frequently. She was active and social and was often waiting in the lobby to be picked up to go to some event or other. She walked almost everywhere and often had her daughter with her.
Once there was a bus strike in Saskatoon, which carried on for about six weeks. The days were hot as summer lingered, and I told Ellen to ask if she needed a ride but she never did. It wasn’t too long a walk from work, she explained, only about 3 kilometers. As Ellen chided herself for needing to rest for a moment after the long climb up the steep bridge, I shook my head in disbelief. I reminded her that she was almost 90 years old! Many people half her age wouldn’t have walked that far in the late summer heat, and they sure wouldn’t be walking from work at almost 90 years of age!
Ellen still worked two to three days a week at the Paramount Day Spa in Saskatoon, well into her 90s. She talked fondly to me of taking care of her ‘ladies’, as she called her clients. She had started working at Paramount in 1952, when many women were housewives and stay-at-home moms. Ellenhad many ideas for changes she wanted to see in the area ofesthetics, and in 1968 she took over the business. She became one of only a few women who owned a business in Saskatoon in the 1960s.
Ellen was forward thinking and well ahead of her time. Shesaw great potential in esthetics and built up that side of her business, along with the hairdressing side of things. She sought out workshops and clinics she and her staff could attend and brought state-of-the-art services and products to Saskatoon. It was a conservative city of around 120,000 people at that timeand esthetics were just catching on in bigger cities such as Toronto and Vancouver. Ellen saw the potential and decided to jump in ahead of the game. She was a bona fide businesswoman before the word had even been invented.
I became one of Ellen’s ladies when she was 89. I had only had one other facial in my life, but I knew a true calling – a passion when I felt one. Ellen had tiny hands that massaged and rubbed creams and scrubs into my skin in exactly the right way. She loved what she was doing, and I felt it! She was so knowledgeable and passionate about skin care, and I loved beingpampered in this way. It was a real treat for me to be one of Ellen’s ladies, and I looked forward to my treatments, as well as the visits for tea and dinners we sometimes shared.
Ellen continued to go to work two to three days a week giving facials to her ladies. She still walked to Paramount, across the river, even in the depths of winter. She worked until she was 95 and finally had to retire due to health reasons. She died at 96 after a very active and social life. I think of Ellen every time I go to the Paramount Day Spa for a facial. She was a woman on the leading edge of esthetics and every esthetician and salon technician owes a debt of gratitude to Ellen Gaunt, who led the way to bringing such wonderful services to our small prairie city.
If you want to learn more about Ellen, see below: