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.
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
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!"