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Ruby spreads love wherever she goes


At last count, more than 175 painted ladybug rocks from New Ross are travelling. You can see them on a dedicated Facebook page, photographed in several Canadian provinces, across the U.S. and in Ireland — even at Stonehenge.

Ruby’s Travelling Rocks are in memory of Ruby Webber whose birth in September 2016 delighted her family. A rare, nameless and sadly fatal neurological disorder would take little Ruby in May 2017.

Ruby and her parents, Candace Gates and Lucas Webber of New Ross, spent most of Ruby’s life at the Pediatric Medial Unit (PMU) of the IWK Health Centre in Halifax. Ruby passed peacefully and the family, along with the community, mourned.

“Ruby didn’t get to love the world,” said Wanda Gates-Murphy, one of Ruby’s grandmothers, and while still mourning she assures she is “blown away with all the goodness coming from Ruby’s little life.”

In their grief, Gates and Gates-Murphy said they became keenly aware of the outpour of support from the community for their family.

“In grief you don’t have the mindset to do things … so many people wanted to give and help us,” said Gates, noting that her gratitude is “bigger than what I can say.” Gates said she and Webber cannot believe “how much Ruby’s memory is moving on; how so many people care.”

Gates-Murphy’s husband, Marty Murphy, said he started thinking about how to say thank you to a community that did so much in Ruby’s name and how to thank people for their goodness.

Ruby’s trail

Murphy presented the idea of a trail through the family’s acreage and a little spot to sit at the peak of Porcupine Hill. It would be for the community in memory of Ruby. Murphy is a Christmas tree grower and Porcupine Hill is part of his lot.

The family gave the nod and Murphy soon realized he needed help. Murphy calls it a “remarkable coincidence” that he attended a Christmas Party where the newly minted New Ross Trail Society (NRTS) was actively “looking for opportunities to

build trails.” That was December 2017. In November 2018 the excavation began.

Ruby’s travelling rocks

With the trail in mind, Gates-Murphy was wondering what she could add. She wanted “something special” for visitors to see. At first, she thought “a kindness or friendship rock,” then she transformed a few rocks into ladybugs. Friends started asking for them as a souvenir or inspiration and in memory of Ruby. In 2018, Ruby’s Travelling Rocks was born.

Ruby’s smoothies and T-shirts

Ruby Smoothies (available at Keliza Healthy Living in Mahone Bay) and Ruby T-shirts were soon produced and are sold by friends of Gates and Webber to “remember Ruby and to support the PMU which Lucas and I care a lot about,” said Gates.

From darkness often comes light. It seems little Ruby left for her family an endless trail of love to spread, gratitude to feel and strength to harness. And slowly, but surely, they are.

Visit FB/RubysTravellingRocks to follow the journey.

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