||March 20, 2009
Centenarians – Our Local Heroes
People are living a lot longer than
they used to, many into their 90s and some become centenarians. I wrote about
several of these 100 year olds in February 2004 (check my website below) all of
whom became a kind of local hero to friends, relatives and the general
I got interested in centenarians
again recently when several came into view and are mentioned here. The main
trigger was a friend and colleague Bill Tilden from
Bill Tilden (r) talking to his famous brother
CBC broadcaster Lamont Tilden. Submitted photo.
His Uncle Bill was turning 100 on
February 28th in Harriston,
Ontario, near Owen Sound. Uncle Bill taught school in
Rutherglen in Bonfield
Township for two years from September 1932 to June 1934 before returning to
farming where he had an outstanding career as a leader in the agricultural
community. He was the Warden of Wellington County at one
point.My friend wanted a copy of my Kiosk book to give to his uncle and
we got together for lunch and talked about his uncle. Kiosk is near
Uncle Bill lived with the Jim
McLaren family at Rutherglen
and became friends with Jim’s son Basil McLaren, the
Reeve of Bonfield for 20 years and his wife Juanita
(Shields) and others and visited over the years and has a campsite and trailer
on Talon Lake. Local
Rutherglen historian Elmer Rose and his father Oswald provided me with
some excellent information on the school which was the”
Burwash” School on the NE corner of
Rutherglen Line and Development Road. Oswald, who
attended a nearby school recalled visits to the
School when Bill Tilden was the teacher there. Elmer put me in touch with
who provided me with additional information. She was invited to the 100th
birthday party but couldn’t attend.
Bill was remembered for his pleasant
personality,for the way
he dressed and for his motorcycle, while in Rutherglen.
Bill was a part time stringer/reporter for the Toronto Star when he missed the
scoop of a lifetime in 1934. Dr. Dafoe was visiting the
McLaren family and mentioned the
Bill ran to the phone but was too late – someone else had called
in the story.
North Bay friend visited his Uncle’s 100th
birthday on February 28th on the farm where Uncle Bill lived for 92 years.
Bill’s brother,95 year old Lamont “Monty” Tilden, who
had a distinguished career as a CBC radio and television broadcaster for decades
was in attendance along with many guests. In an ironic twist of fate Uncle Bill
quietly passed away in his sleep overnight just a few hours after his birthday.
The Nugget had a story on February 27th
about Margaret Cousins a resident at Nipissing Manor in
Corbeil in the old Quints’ residence. She
was 110 years old that day having been born in 1899
and living in 3 centuries. Her 84 year old daughter Gerry visits regularly.
Margaret lived on her own until she was 100. The Nugget ran a follow-up story
from Brockville the next
day about a relative keeping track of Margaret’s letters and photographs
and records of her marriage and family life.
Nipissing Manor has had several
centenarians, as have other nursing homes ,and even
had the world’s oldest living woman Marie Louise Meilleur
who died at the Manor in 1998 at 117 years of age. Marie Louise spent most of
her life at Rapides des
Joachims (Swisha). She had 75 grandchildren,
80 great-grandchildren and 55 great great
February 25th 2009 – Hockey Day in Canada – the
residents or Rapides des
Joachims officially opened their new Municipal skating rink. The new
rink is called the Marie Louise Meilleur Rink.
January 2, 2009 a Portugese woman died at age 115.
She had replaced Edna Parker, an American who was also 115. American Gertrude
Barnes 114 is now the world’s oldest person. There is a 113 year
woman Mary Josephine Ray in P.E.I who is the 4th oldest in the world.
Men do not make it to 100 as much as
women but a few do. We all remember George Burns
and his jokes about aging when he was 100+. The area’s best known male
centenarian is Clarence Brazier who lives in Sprucedale
with his daughter Doris Villeneuve. Clarence never
learned to read as a child because his dad was blinded in an accident and
Clarence had to help him on the farm. Clarence worked in the logging business
all his life along with some other work when available. When his wife of 60
years died when he was 93 he decided to learn to read and he did. He became the
hero of the literacy movement and visited schools regularly.
Clarence received a Canada Post
Literary Award in 2006 and a Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award in 2008,
recognizing him as “an inspirational role model for
in her book Almaguin Chronicles 2008 provides an excellent profile of Clarence.
Roy MacGregor wrote about him in the Globe and Mail
and he was featured on Global Television. The publicity has interested a film
company in making a feature film about him.
George Burns had a few things to say
about life at 100. He said he could remember when the air was clean and sex was
dirty. He also said that if you live to a hundred
you’ve got it made because very few people die past that age. In a serious
moment he also said “How beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and
colour are their last days.” Seems like a good thought to end this look at
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