The First World War hadn’t even started when Ernie and Dorothy Weeks were born. But a century later the affable couple are looking back fondly on a wonderful life.
Ernie was born in Bouctouche, N.B., on April 5, 1911. His wife Dorothy was born on Boxing Day of 1912.
Ernie and Dorothy actually met for the first time at Waterdown High School in the 1920s. But he married Pauline Duncan and they were soul mates for 58 years before she died in 1999 on exactly the same day as Princess Diana.
Meanwhile, Dorothy married Vern Stettler in 1936 at a home wedding in Nelson Township, which now is part of Burlington. They were together for 17 years.
In a strange twist of fate, they met again almost 80 years later in the year 2000 at St. Elizabeth’s. He was 90 and she was 88 when they went to the altar the same year.
Ernie grew up in Waterdown, and attended elementary and high school there, before studying chemistry at the University of Toronto for two years. He then quit to take lessons as a pilot from Ernie Taylor, a highly reputed instructor who introduced the popular Tiger Moth aircraft to the Hamilton Aero Club before the war, and started flying out of the old flying field on Barton Street in 1935.
He got a job as a bush pilot in Sudbury, taking fisherman and hunters to various locations and also piloting planes carrying gold and minerals, then the Second World War came along.
In 1940, he became an instructor at Mount Hope Airport.
Ernie spent three summers flying guys in to do mapping on Baffin Island, but he never saw any combat.
“Every spring I was expecting to be sent overseas, but it never happened,” he said.
Smith was asked to manage the store in Burlington because the owner was playing golf too much. There have been three stores in Burlington – in Appleby Mall, on Guelph Line and one Plains Road East.
“We were afraid of Stalin coming into the north,” he said. “That’s why I was sent there with a squadron of the U.S. Navy.”
After Vern died, she married Don Scott, who was a gardener in Aldershot, and they were husband and wife for 27 years.
Ernie’s only son Vince, now in his 60s, was a teacher at Pearson High School in Burlington before retiring. Ernie has two grandchildren – Trevor Weeks, who lives in Troy, which is part of Flamborough, and Julie Sarya of Traverse City, Michigan, who has two children of her own. So, Ernie is a great-grandfather.
His father George A. Weeks founded the business in 1924 when he bought a general store at the corner of Hwy. 5 and Waterdown Road
After the war his father, who died in 1940, wanted to give up the store and Ernie went into partnership with his brother Irving. They finally sold the business in October of 2011.
Ernie and his first wife Pauline ran the business until 1972 when they sold it to David Smith. Irving had left to work for the Irving family in New Brunswick in the early 1950s,
Ernie and Dorothy drive to play cards with the seniors group at Holy Rosary
Church in Burlington when the weather permits. They both still take the wheel and have had licences since they were 16.
Since Ernie’s first love is airplanes, he spends a lot of time at the Warplane Heritage Museum.
Ernie was one of the founding members of the Waterdown Rotary Club in 1955 and is a past president of the organization. He also was a member of the Burlington Curling Club.
He has been all around the world, including Brazil and the Soviet Union, where made stops in both St. Petersburg and Moscow.
Six years ago Ernie was driving a friend to play euchre, when he slipped on a piece of ice while getting out of the car. He was dragged backwards about 100 feet and had his pelvis pulled apart. Dorothy, who was in the back seat at the time, drove him to the hospital and luckily he recovered.
Just one month later, she fell down and broke her hip.
Other than that, the couple have been healthy for their entire lives.
“Ernie never even took pills until about six months ago,” Dorothy said.
Margaret Allender, who was the very first nurse at St. Elizabeth’s in 1983, says the couple are a pleasure to deal with.
Dorothy has volunteered at the Burlington Senior Citizens Centre for 30 years and Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital for 15.
She has a simple recipe for living to be 100.
“You never give up,” she said. “You always think of what you’re going to do tomorrow. That’s my way of looking at it. You can always help somebody else.”