Caption: Catch of the Day
Elwyn McConnell was treated to a day of fishing on the Red River last fall, where he caught two Master Anglers, a silver perch and a catfish, in one day. Shown (L-R): Elwyn McConnell, Garry Eng (formerly of Reston and family friend), Trev Henuset and Hayden Barré Henuset. PHOTO/SUBMITTED
The Reston Recorder chose Elwyn McConnell as April’s Senior Spotlight.
Elwyn is an extremely active senior at the age of 92, born January 5, 1927.
Elwyn grew up in Kincardine, Ontario on a farm. “I was the 3rd eldest of 14 children,” said McConnell. “Four are gone, the oldest died last year of a heart attack and three others from cancer over the past 20 years.
Elwyn attended a one room school house which housed 39 students and he had the same teacher for 7 years. “I only went to Grade 8, taking two years in one,” explained McConnell. “They wanted me to go to high school in Kincardine, but you needed a white shirt and a tie to attend and with 14 in the family, I knew my parents couldn’t afford it. So I said, ‘no’, quit school and have been working ever since.
“My first job was when I was 14. I was hired for a year on a farm for $35 a month in the summer and $15 in the winter. There were 14 horses to harness,” said McConnell. “It was a coincidence, I found out later, that they were related to Manson Moir of Tilston.” Elwyn worked at a tobacco farm, planting, hoeing and harvesting. “My brother drove the horses and the boss’ daughter and I sat on the plough about five inches off the ground and dropped the tobacco plants in,” said McConnell. “I was always talking and joking and would miss my shot, but she never missed hers.”
In 1945, after the tobacco farm, Elwyn like many young men, went to Alberta to get a job on the oil. “Me and a couple of other guys stopped in Saskatoon, heard tale of work at Viscount and were hired immediately to work there on a farm. Three weeks later, we finished, went to Alberta, but couldn’t find work, so kept on going to BC,” said McConnell. “We worked in thecommunity of Malakwa as a logger,” Malakwa is located off the Trans-Canada Highway 1 in the Eagle Valley of the Shuswap region of British Columbia. The name Malakwa is a Chinook word for Mosquito.”
On one of his trips between BC and Ontario, Elwyn met his future wife, Eleanor Fissette from the Sinclair area. Eleanor returned to Ontario with Elwyn and they were married in 1951. Elwyn worked in a furniture factory and Eleanor a thread spool factory in Ontario before Eleanor got word from her parents and they needed help with the harvest. “We started farming in 1951 with 25 cows, getting half the calves,” explained McConnell. “I sold my car to my brother to get here. We had quite a struggle, drove a horse and buggy until we had enough money to buy a Model A.” In 1974, Elwyn and Eleanor sold the farm and moved to Reston. He was a carpenter for many years, before and after retiring.
Elwyn and Eleanor married in 1951 and had 2 children, Terry and Judy, 5 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren. Sadly in 1988, Eleanor passed away after a battle with cancer. That year also took the life of his granddaughter Coraleigh, - in an automobile accident. “I had seen her at the hockey game in Reston and a half an hour later she was gone.” In 1988, Elwyn also found love again with the companionship of Marie Jorgensen.
Volunteering has always been an important part of Elwyn’s life. He was the caretaker and president of the Reston Drop In up until last year. He was instrumental in the building of the new Al-Res-Tone Drop In Centre and was also an important part of the Reston United Church.
Elwyn ice fishes in the winter and fishes in the summer. “Marie and I have travelled a lot. We have been to Australia, Europe, Great Britain, all over the states, enjoyed an Alaskan cruise and trips to Mexico.” Recently, he went on a fishing trip on the Red River, where he caught two master anglers in one day.
“On May 28, daughter Judy, grandson Trev and great grandson Hayden and myself are planning a trip to Armow, a few miles out of Kincardine, Ontario for a family reunion, it may be my last,” said McConnell. “I get tired sometimes.”
“We like small towns, Reston is big enough for anyone, except for the lacking of a steady doctor,” stated McConnell. “I don’t consider myself old, I used to deer hunt with Alvin Dodds, I no longer curl or golf but play cards and we get together with friends and family in the evenings. You are only as old as you feel!”