Dorothy Houghton

94 years young

My name is Dorothy Houghton and I was born in Peterborough, Ontario in 1922.  I am one of seven children. My youngest sister Ellen died at 18 months of pneumonia.  Our lives were pretty normal, our days filled with fun, love, music and security until I was 10 years old when our father suddenly died of a stroke and then two years later our mother died of cancer.  That left six children alone to face the world. The eldest was but 19 years old and the youngest only six.  Most important to me was that with the help of the Salvation Army we were all able to stay together as a family in our own home.

During World War II, all 3 of my brothers enlisted and at home I worked for General Electric to help the war effort. Although times were difficult and we dealt with many shortages and rationing, my life was filled with friends and home.

It was also during this time that I married my first husband and we moved to Toronto to live with his parents and started our family.  We had five children and lived in Richmond Hill and then back to Toronto until our divorce 19 years later.  I worked at a glass factory during the day and went to school at night to get a certificate in bookkeeping that helped me to get a job at Coopers & Lybrand  where I worked for 20 years until my retirement.

When I met and married my second husband and after I retired, we ran a convenience store in the Bloor Avenue and Dovercourt Road area of Toronto.  I was very active in the War Veterans Club in Toronto where I was President of the Women’s Auxiliary for 15 years.  We made a special effort for the veterans who stayed at Sunnybrook hospital showing weekly films, giving refreshments and bringing them to the Veteran’s Club for special occasions. It was a lot of work but it warmed my heart to feel their gratitude and appreciation. I made life-long friends at the Club and still hear from them now and then.

After only 10 years of marriage, my husband suddenly passed away and I became very active in volunteering for the Bloor-Central Salvation Army Corp. where I helped with the “Moms & Tots” program to teach crafts to young mothers to get them out of the house so they could socialize with other mothers.

I also had the opportunity to travel.  My younger sister and I went on a Mediterranean Cruise of Europe.  Then we went to Australia and New Zealand.  I have also travelled to Hawaii, the Fiji Islands and to Florida. I had fun and thoroughly enjoyed that time of my life.

My fondest memory is the time that I spent at home with my children.  There was much love, joy and frustration with raising five children primarily on my own but I loved every minute of it.  Many have asked how I have reached the age of 94.  I think laughter, friends and strong family ties have kept me going through some of the most difficult times of my life.

I have been at Hillside Place for five years now and cannot think of a better place that I would rather be.  I have many friends here and love the apartment that I now call home.  I became a client of Peel Senior Link from when I moved in and I know that without their assistance and care, I would not been able to stay in my own home.  The Personal Support Workers that I have are all wonderful and we share a lot of laughter, good conversation and music.  My days are filled with peace and security in knowing that I can call on them whenever I need help.  Thank you Peel Senior Link for taking such good care of me.  My children do not have to worry about me and for that, I am grateful.

Ruth Hicks

91 years young

I was born on March 29th, 1926 as Ester Ruth Hicks in Port Arthur, Ontario which is now Thunder Bay.  It’s a northern community, so the people who lived there were required to be self-sufficient and hard working in order to survive the isolation and the  long, cold, harsh winters of Northern Ontario.  My dad was an engineer and shortly after I started school in Port Arthur, he got a job to build the hotel in Jellicoe, a small mining town in Ontario.  I remember the preparations for our move to Jellicoe…how mom had to buy me and my younger sister Fran a brand new wardrobe at the only store in Port Arthur  in order for us to survive the winters of Jellicoe.  The store sold mostly boys clothing but I remember how mom did her best to make the boys clothes as suitable as possible for the girls to wear.  This was no easy task, and I was so impressed with mom’s ability to change a boy’s brief into a girls underwear.

My first memory of Jellico was staying at great Aunt Grace’s house which was across the lake of our new home in Jellicoe which was actually more of a “shack”. I always marveled that we didn’t freeze over the winter months in that tiny “shack” that was our home.

This is where I learned how to make real sauerkraut…in a large barrel…a process that took over a month to ferment.  I really thought this was fantastic as I had only ever tasted sauerkraut from a can…and after trying real sauerkraut, I swore I would never have sauerkraut from a can again! When I was 16, my dad got a job in Toronto.  Our parents left for Toronto in order to find a home for us, and sent for Fran and I once they settled.  We stayed in Jellicoe with our grandma until then.  I got a job as a homemaker for a doctor’s family in town.  I loved that job and saved enough money to purchase our train tickets to Toronto and new outfits and a new outrageous straw hat for the journey.  My mom used to tease me because she remembered seeing me coming off the train carrying our luggage, holding my 10 year old sister’s hand, while sporting this ridiculous  straw hat!   I couldn’t believe the size of Toronto…the largest town I had ever seen was Port Arthur and Toronto was nothing like Port Arthur.

I met my first husband Arthur in 1946, we married and had children.  Life was tough for us as it was for most young couples post war.  We struggled to find a good home to raise our children, struggled with employment and struggled with good health.  My youngest son passed away at 11 months old from tracheitis.  Later, my youngest daughter Peggy suffered from a severe bout of the measles as a baby, infecting her ears. The damage in her ears resulted in 75% hearing loss in both ears.  She got over the measles, but her hearing never returned. I spent most of my time learning ways to teach her how to speak and communicate and how to function independanlty.

Years later, after all the children had grown my oldest daughter was diagnosed with cancer.  I became her primary caregiver and companion, travelling  from Etobicoke to Burlington every take care of her.  It was so difficult and traumatic to witness my own daughter disappearing before my eyes.  She passed away before she reached the age of 40.

I was widowed twice. After the death of my second husband in 1978, I began painting. I had never painted before but knew I needed to try it, so I purchased my supplies and tried painting for the first time.  I intuitively knew what to do and I loved it.  I showed off my work at local exhibitions, always learned new techniques from other artists and then created artwork that still hangs in our homes now.  I am fortunate to have found painting as it helped me to learn so much about others and myself.

My advice to others would be:  You can feel the hurt, but you must carry on as best as you can.  You can’t forget the loss, but you have to let go of the hurt of the loss.  You only have one life to live…so you have to make the best of what you’ve got.”

I have been a client with PSL for 2 years.  They have been so helpful.    Some days I can’t do anything but there is always someone there to provide the help when I ask for it. The support from Peel Senior Link is invaluable.

Joe Reston

98 years young

Joseph was born on April 6, 1919 in Calcutta, India. He worked for the government all his life with the Rail Finance Department as an Inspecting Officer. He was married (currently widowed) with 2 children, a son and a daughter. He has 5 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild. His son moved to Canada and sponsored Joe in 1984. His son owned several businesses and Joe worked for his son until he retired.

Joe kept himself busy in his retirement volunteering at the Saint Peter & Paul Catholic Church in Mississauga. His role was a sacristan – a helper for the Mass who makes sure all the parts of the liturgy are coordinated. Joe would attend church on a daily basis leaving his apartment in Brampton at 5:00 am every morning to take the bus to Mississauga and stay until 1 or 2 pm. He would bring back food items for all the tenants at Knightsbridge. In the last few years, Joe is unable to make the long walk to church from the bus and is driven now once a week by a church volunteer.

Joe has been a client with Peel Senior Link since 2011 – he has the apartment right beside the Peel Senior Link office which is very convenient if he needs the staff at any time. “If it wasn’t for Peel Senior Link, I would not be able to live independently, the staff help me with everything – my groceries, medication, bathing, cleaning, laundry, I feel reassured that they are here for me whenever I need them, they are my family”.

Audrey Hinds

95 years young

Audrey was born in Windsor Ontario on August 3, 1921 and lived in Windsor for most of her childhood.  Audrey’s father worked at Ford and was constantly being laid off.  This made life difficult for the family. Life continued to be difficult when Audrey’s mother passed away from cancer at a young age leaving 5 children.  At sixteen, Audrey had to quit school and take care of her younger siblings because the other older siblings were not living at home at the time.

When Audrey was 18 years old she moved from Windsor to Toronto because her dad found steady employment at John Inglis and Company in Toronto.  A year later her dad was able to get Audrey a job there as well.

Audrey met her husband when he was deployed to Ontario from England.  They got married in 1943 and decided to set sail to England in 1944, a trip that took them 12 days. They had a fun filled and exciting life.  They had two children a daughter first who was born in 1948 and then a son a couple of years later. Audrey was so happy to have a boy because her husband was happy with a girl, but really wanted a son very much.  Audrey stayed in England for 3 years but then had to move back to Ontario because of her health.  Audrey was born with a hole in her heart which was never addressed because in those days surgery was not an option.

Years later her husband passed away from cancer in 1988.  Audrey always wanted to travel across Canada, not by plane but by ground.  Audrey travelled first to western Canada, spending 15 days touring, and then two years later in 1992 she travelled to eastern Canada.

Audrey made lots of friends over the years especially a particular friend that she stayed in touch with from Windsor.  Sadly she passed away only three years ago.  Another set of friends she had were from England where she was the Maid of Honour at their wedding.  After many years they lost contact and they had been searching for each other for over 50 years!  One day after living at 2440 Truscott, she saw a gentleman downstairs and heard someone call out his name, she thought to herself, now there cannot be two men with that name! She found him and asked him if he remembered who his maid of honour at his wedding was and he instantly recognized her!  The gentleman and his wife became friends again enjoying many gatherings and get together over tea until they passed away.

Audrey’s daughter now lives in Picton Ontario and has four children.  Her son lives in Barrie Ontario and has two.  Out of the six grandchildren Audrey has ten great-grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren.  She feels truly blessed.

Audrey didn’t have too many hobbies, but she liked to new and cook, which she learned because of her mother’s early passing.  Her fondest memories were when she was a child taking trips to visit her aunt and uncle in Springfield Massachusetts.  They had no children so they loved to spoil Audrey and her siblings.  Audrey can remember her uncle holding her upside down and letting her walk on the ceiling!  She enjoyed that very much!

Audrey has been with Peel Senior Link for 13 years, joining in 2004.  She feels comfortable knowing that she is with a reliable company and that when she needs Peel Senior Link, they will be there for her anytime.

If you ask Audrey what advice she would give to people, she would say to eat healthy, keep moving and listen to your body.

Andie Ritchie

83 years young

Andy Ritchie was born December 1934 in Belfast, Northern Ireland, the eldest of three boys. Andy decided that there were better opportunities for him if he were to move to Canada. Andy arrived in Canada. in September of 1957 with his wife Dorothy. At this time there was a large influx of immigrants coming from Northern Ireland and Scotland to Canada. Andy had family and friends already living in Canada, primarily in the Toronto area. Dorothy’s family were living in Montréal at the time and suggested that they move to the Toronto area. During their first week in Canada, Andy and Dorothy stayed with Andy’s uncle in the Jane and Wilson area in Toronto. Andy’s uncle owned a printing business. Andy had finished his seven year printing apprenticeship and one year as a Line Type Operator at the oldest newspaper in the United Kingdom – the Belfast News Letter which started in 1737. Within two days of being in Canada Andy started a job with Murray Printing which was owned by Timothy Eaton Co. Andy printed flyers and the Eaton’s catalogue. Andy was also head security for the St. James Cathedral in Toronto. Within his position at St. James Cathedral, he had the pleasure of meeting various dignitaries including the Queen Mother, Princess Margaret, Prince Charles, Lady Diana, and the young Prince William and Prince Harry.
Andy and Dorothy met as schoolchildren at the age of 14. At this meeting they dated for one month and broke up because Dorothy cut her beautiful ginger blonde hair, according to Andy. They met again three years later on June 11th, 1953 and married on March 20th, 1957 and were happily married for 60 years.

Andy also served two years in the Royal Air Force as a rigger. Andy and his wife Dorothy enjoyed cruising; their favourite area cruise was in the Mediterranean around the Greek islands. They also enjoyed many cruises in the Eastern Caribbean Sea. Andy and Dorothy had two sons, Guy and Danea and the pleasure of having two grandchildren.

Andy’s favourite past time was teaching swimming. He taught from beginners to advance class. Andy taught young and old alike. His teachings also included scuba training.