Beaver Harbour – Friends and family gathered this past Thursday in the small fishing village of Beaver Harbour to celebrate the 109th birthday of Arnold Hawkins – Canada’s oldest man.
Born January 30, 1911 in sight of the house where he still lives, Hawkins came from a family where long lives are the norm. His grandmother Levena (Johnson) Hawkins, from nearby Deadmans Harbour, lived to 107.
His wife Vera came from White Head Island off Grand Manan, and left him a widower in 2010 – she was 96 at the time.
Together they raised five children in the house he built in the “hog pasture”, a piece of land he purchased in 1939 for the princely amount of $300 ($5,245 when adjusted for inflation).
In the fullness of time he would see the birth of 14 grandchildren, 25 great grandchildren, and five great-great grandchildren.
Although Hawkins lived through WWI and WWII he did not serve.
“He couldn’t kill anyone,” said his eldest granddaughter Kelly Miller.
As was common in the area Hawkins made a living off the water. Son Wayne Hawkins related that at one point, his father did consider a career in business, but after enrolling in business college in Saint John, the elder Hawkins realized he “could make more money raking clams.” and returned to his roots.
Not all of his 49 descendants were able to make it to his birthday, nor did his sister Clara Turner who now resides in Sudbury, Ontario. “She didn’t look after herself,” said Wayne, “she’s 99.”
Hawkins took the title of the nation’s oldest man on February 17, 2019 with the passing of Montreal native Dr. Robert Weiner.