Ripley woman celebrates
her 100th birthday

By Liz Dadson

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Bertha Tout (C) of Ripley, with her brothers and sisters at the Salem School Family Picnic in June, 2013; from left, John Bolton, Etta Dickieson, Bertha Tout, Margaret Sleightholm and Harvey Bolton
photo courtesy of Marlene Van Ryswyk

Bertha Tout says it's as much good luck as good food that has helped her reach the age of 100.

The Ripley woman celebrated her 100th birthday surrounded by family, friends and neighbours, Saturday at the Ripley-Huron Community Centre.

Born Dec. 6, 1913, she is the eldest of 11 children born to Robert and Rosetta (Smith) Bolton of Culross Township. Only four of her siblings are still living: Harvey and his wife, Bertha Bolton of Walkerton, John Bolton of Wingham, Margaret Sleightholm of Lucknow, and Etta Dickieson of Ripley. She also has a sister-in-law, Marie Bolton, in Walkerton.

Bertha Bolton met Earl Tout of Pine River at one of the dances at the Kincardine Dance Hall Pavilion during the war years (Second World War). At that time, she was working at the Malcolm Furniture Factory in Kincardine, making airplane parts.

They were married at the Teeswater United Church manse on June 6, 1944, and had four children: Doug, a retired carpenter, and his wife, Audrey, live in Brantford; Marlene Van Ryswyk, a retired teacher, lives in Port Perry, north of Oshawa; Helen Petley, a personal support worker, lives in Mitchell; and Murray, a mechanic, and his wife, Faye, live in Caesarea, near Port Perry.

Bertha and Earl farmed on the 8th Concession of Huron Township, and Earl served as the clerk-treasurer of the township for 21 years (1954-75), retiring at the age of 65.

Since the clerk's office was in their home, Bertha answered the telephone and would attend many functions with her husband, including conferences, dinners, etc.

They lived 32 years on the farm, and Bertha has lived 37 years in Ripley. Earl passed away in 2007.

Bertha was a member of the Women's Missionary Society for years and continues as a member of Knox Presbyterian Church, Ripley, when she is able to attend.

Besides her four children, she has 15 grandchildren and 26 great-grandchildren.

She now takes it easy - she enjoys reading and watching television and listening to Irish music. She used to knit and sew, as well as garden and make preserves.

As for being 100 years old, she says she enjoys good food and a lot of good luck because she is still healthy and living in her own home on Huron Street in Ripley.

"I guess I'll make it to 100," she jokes, since our interview was on Tuesday, Dec. 3, three days before her birthday.

Bertha has seen a lot of changes over the past century, the major one being when hydro was hooked up to the farm.

"It was amazing," she recalls. "It sure made a difference for farming. We could do the milking at a later hour because we had lights."

With the hydro, also came a stove, refrigerator and freezer, and an electric mixer and electric frying pan which were so wonderful to have, says Bertha.

Indoor plumbing was also added, and a furnace instead of the old wood stove.

Another delight was being able to buy sliced bread, says Bertha. "There really is nothing better than sliced bread."

But one thing she never got used to, was driving a car.

"I tried it once," she says. "Earl drove us out to a back lane and I got behind the wheel. Well, the thing stalled and he said something to me, and I got out and walked back to the house and I never drove again."

She and Earl enjoyed travelling and camping. They saw the start of the electrical and electronic age, with radios, television, and movies; from gramophones to cassettes to compact discs. 

And, as former clerk-treasurer, he saw Huron Township amalgamate with Kinloss Township and Lucknow to become Huron-Kinloss in 1999, and said it was a good idea to decide the fate of the township, rather than have it decided for you.

Bertha Tout at her 99th birthday party last year
photo courtesy of Marlene Van Ryswyk

Bertha Tout of Ripley relaxes in her new reclining chair, a gift from her family, for her 100th birthday

Bertha (Bolton) Tout (in front) with her great-grandmother Rebecca Hiltz (L), her mother Rosetta Bolton, and grandmother Phoebe Ann Smith-Nelson
photo courtesy of Marlene Van Ryswyk

Bertha (L) and Earl Tout of Ripley celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary in 2004
photo courtesy of Marlene Van Ryswyk

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