Elegant and Erudite at 105 Years Young


Matty Earls at 105

There is a new resident at the Southampton Care Centre and she is soon to turn 105!

Born in Owen Sound on June 15, 1903, Martha (Matty) Jane Earls (nee Harrison), she was the youngest girl of six children with two sisters and three brothers. She was also the granddaughter of Elias and Louisa Earls, counted among the first settlers in the Owen Sound area.

Her father, William Henry Harrison, moved to Owen Sound with his parents from Washinton, D.C. when he was two years old. As a young man, he began a career in the Owen Sound stone quarry and married Martha Douglas from Williamsford. He and his brother, Samuel, learned the butcher's trade from a prominent Owen Sound butcher, W. Wooten. William however, preferred to work in stone and worked as a foreman at the Olvier-Rogers Co. Stone Quarry. As Owen Sound expanded, so did the demand for well-built, attractive stone buildings.

William quarried the stone and plugged and feathered it for the First Baptist Church, the Church of Christ (Disciples) and St. George's Church in addition to the tower vestibules of the Division Street Church.


(next column)


William eventually owned his own quarry and, from there, stone was provided for the stone cross, name stone and building of St. Mary's High School in Owen Sound.  His stone, in fact,  was used in most of the stone buildings in Owen Sound and provided the footing stone for the Keenan plant.  Many of Owen Sound's heritage buildings bear the stone of William's quarry and he was also instrumental in providing, plugging and feathering the stone used in the Sault Ste. Marie locks.

As a young girl, Matty worked at several jobs including the Kitchener Market and the Keenans Toothpick Factory in Owen Sound and, then, she married David Earls.  According to Matty, "David was a cook or chef. He worked at the Patterson House and then on the boats along the Great Lakes.  He would go from Owen Sound to Montreal and back again.  Sometimes, I worked on the boats with him."  They were married for 35 years and, after his death, Matty married again, to Ernest Earls. Together, for more than 30 years, the couple entertained and travelled and, as an Eastern Star and hostess, she held what was a famous annual strawberry festival.

Today, her demeanor belies the date on a birth certificate. Her face is unlined, her smile brilliantly white and her hair immaculate.   Dressed in pink, she walks the halls actively and, when not walking, she reads romance novels.  She laughs, "I know I shouldn't read this kind of thing but, at my age, why not!"

When asked how old she feels, she pauses pensively for a minute.  "I don't know.  I do know that I don't even feel 100 yet!  I never had any children but I have nephews.  I used to love to dance!"

When asked if she regrets anything, Matty replies, "Yes, I regret that all my sisters and brothers and my friends are all gone.  I guess I'm the last but, if you have your health you have everything.  I see some people here at the centre who are much younger than I am and they can't get around the way I do so ... when I see that, I know how lucky I am!"