Kincardine woman celebrates 100th birthday
By Liz Dadson

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Margaret Eleanor Edna (Carr) Hetsler (C) enjoys her 100th birthday party with her daughters and their husbands, Betty (L) and Stu Grigg, and Shirley and Ross Sturdy, all of Kincardine

Margaret Hetsler (seated, centre) of Kincardine is surrounded by her daughters, Betty (L) and Shirley, and her grandchildren and great-grandchildren at a celebration of her 100th birthday Saturday afternoon at Kincardine United Church

Margaret Hetsler of Kincardine says turning 100 years of age feels "pretty good."

Seated in a comfortable armchair, the centre of attention at her birthday party Saturday afternoon at Kincardine United Church, she notes that she has to use a cane now to get around.

"Longevity is in the genes," she says, adding that her father lived to be 87, his brother, Wilson, lived to the age of 99, and her grandmother lived to be 96.

"I have such a wonderful family," she says. "They're really good to me, and that has a lot to do with it."

Margaret Eleanor Edna Carr was born May 8, 1913, at 10 a.m., in a farmhouse on the 14th Concession of Greenock Township. Her parents were Alexander (Sandy) Carr and Margaret Eleanor Flett, and she had two brothers, Lorne and Murray, and a sister, Jennie Mae.

Tragedy struck three weeks later when Margaret's mother died. Her Aunt Lizzie (mother's sister) and Uncle John Cruickshank cared for her until she was four years old. Her father re-married in 1916, to Ida Sawyer, and Margaret returned home to live on the farm.

Two years later, the family moved to Walkerton and a new baby girl, Phyllis, was born. The family again suffered tragedy when Margaret's sister, Jennie Mae, died of the 1918 flu at the age of 17, and her stepmother died in 1923.

At that point, Margaret's grandmother, who was a very strict, religious Irish woman, came to live with them. Her grandma called her Bridget and taught her how to knit, crochet, embroider, and sew - things Margaret has enjoyed doing all her life. She also loved attending Sunday School and church.

She began school at the age of six and found real enjoyment in learning, and excelled at all her subjects. Her favourites were math, history, geography and composition writing. She wanted to become an accountant but that wasn't possible.

Margaret enjoyed skating, and playing baseball and basketball. In the summer, she liked to spend time at Aunt Lizzie's cottage at Goble's Grove near Port Elgin.

In 1932, Margaret left Walkerton to work on the switchboard at the Bruce Municipal Telephone System (now Bruce Telecom) in Paisley. She also worked at Burn's Grocery Store.

Aunt Aileen Elphick introduced her brother, Melvin, to Margaret. He was a farmer and musician, and played the violin at many dances. Margaret loved to dance.

After a courtship, Melvin and Margaret were married 
April 12, 1939, and moved to his farm on the Baseline of Greenock Township. They shared many good times with their neighbours, and the families still keep in contact today.

The couple had two children, Betty in 1943, and Shirley in 1944.

Besides farming, Mel was a talented mechanic and could fix just about anything. They moved off the farm to Bervie in 1951. Margaret ran the general store and Mel was the mechanic at Elton McLelland's Garage.

In 1955, they moved to Kincardine where Mel was a stationery engineer at the Yale Rubber Company, and Margaret worked at McKenzie's Dry Goods Store. Together, they built two cottages on Goderich Street overlooking Lake Huron, and in1960, built a new home on Gordon Street.

In 1964, Mel took a new job in Streetsville as a stationery engineer, and Margaret retired.

Shirley married Ross Sturdy July 9, 1966, and Betty married Stu Grigg June 7, 1969. Grandchildren began to arrive: Lisa in 1970, Kim in 1971, Scott in 1972 and Paul in 1975.

Mel had heart trouble and was advised to retire, so they moved back to Kincardine in 1971 to the house on Goderich Street, overlooking beautiful Lake Huron.

They were so happy, and shared many good times together. They loved to garden with Henry and Marj Farrell, and had many good card games with neighbours and friends.


Margaret Hetsler of Kincardine celebrates her 100th birthday surrounded by family and friends Saturday at Kincardine United Church

Mel liked to fish, and Margaret liked to quilt with the ladies at the United Church. They also enjoyed spending their winters in Florida.

Mel had a heart attack and died June 2, 1981.

Margaret moved to the Forbes Lambton Court apartments in 1982 and the house overlooking Lake Huron was sold in 1983. She enjoyed her apartment because it was downtown and close to everything, and she had great friends close by.

An avid Blue Jays fan, she and Mildred Fenton, also a Blue Jays fans, would watch the game on television, and at the same time, discuss it on the telephone because they were unable to watch it together.

Margaret loved to travel and took many trips with her family and friends. 

She moved to Trillium Court lodge in 2006, and into long-term care in 2010.

Margaret has four grandchildren: Lisa (Alvin) Storey, Kim (Mike) Logan, Scott (Sabrina) Sturdy, and Paul (Cyndy) Grigg; and seven great-grandchildren: Rebecca, Brooke and Marlise Storey, Ella Grigg, Zachary and Alexander Logan, and Matthew Sturdy.

Happy 100th Birthday, Margaret! 100 years of memories and 100 years of life!

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