Sam Westcott/ Special to The Western Star
Canada turned celebrated its 150th birthday this past July, and to some, that’s pretty old. However, Sop’s Arm resident Ernest Watson Budden is certainly catching up, as he turns 100 years old today.
Budden gathered with friends and family alike this past Saturday evening to celebrate, inside the Stocks Arm REC Centre.
Chatting with him, you soon realize he is not just any other resident of Sop’s Arm. As his youngest daughter Pat explains, Budden’s parents were one of the pioneering settlers of the place and he is still living there in his own house.
When asked if he has any advice for living a long and happy life, he laughs.
“Trust in God and a positive attitude” he said.
“And stay away from doctors,” he adds, joking — showing a good sense of humor might be key to it, too.
Budden won the Senior of Distinction award a few years ago, one of only five in the province to do so. These days, he stays busy by making ornamental snowshoes, which are sold for charity for the Western Regional Hospital Foundation. He has raised $27,000 for the foundation, so far.
The snowshoes are sold at Barnes Sporting Goods and Pat will also sell them herself.
Budden is still eager to tell a good yarn.
Talking to him, he’ll proudly point to his memory as being good as ever. And after 100 years in Sop’s Arm, the man has a story to tell.
“I can remember back when I was two-and-a-half, three years old” says Budden.
Chatting with him, he might tell you about the time he had “a licence for every fish in the water.” Or about his work with the sawmill, or building houses in Sop’s Arm.
Gerald moved to Sop’s Arm when he was eight years old. He was born by mid-wife in Jackson’s Arm, where his mom was from. His wife Ethelyn moved to Sop’s Arm in 1938 from St. Anthony. They married in 1940. Ethelyn was a teacher, and the two had nine children. They were married for 67 years. Ethelyn died 10 years ago.
When asked if he’s looking forward to his party, Budden says no. But that he’s wearing a new shirt for it.
Pat laughs, and explains his sense of humor.
“He’ll enjoy it when he gets there” she says.