Ernest Stovwell celebrates his 100th birthday in the company of friends.
Born in 1917 in England, Ernest Stovwell relocated to Canada some thirty years ago. His main motivation? “Love,” he explains with a smile in his voice.
Raised in Oakhill, Stovwell celebrated his 100th birthday on March 1st. Today, he lives on his farm with his dog, a lively mutt named Lassie. The eldest of two brothers and a sister, Stovwell is the last surviving member of his family.
A World War II veteran, Stovwell came from a family of builders, a trade that he himself followed, becoming a carpenter. It was this trade that led to his first, but not last, meeting of Winston Churchill. His second would be as a soldier crouched in the trenches of North Africa, meeting Churchill’s gaze as he walked the front lines. Churchill recognized Stovwell, jokingly asking him if he could dig himself down any deeper. Seeing both World Wars was an incredible experience for the Stovwell—his family home was bombed twice during the wars, being rebuilt both times by his family. Joining the army in 1939, Stovwell served six years as a soldier. Of the war, he recalls one story about a friend. “I had a good friend, since I was five years old, and we tried to join the army together. In the end, my friend went to France, and when the British army left France, he was left behind, and had to hide from the Germans while he found his way home. He came back with all gray hair.” He continues, recalling some of the fights he saw. “I saw so many dogfights between the German and English planes—you’d see the parachutes coming down all the time.” Even in childhood, Stovwell recalls seeing a Zeppelin flying overhead from his bedroom window.
His trade as a carpenter came in handy when he relocated to Canada, following the love of his life, Winifred Hamel, a woman he had met during the First World War. “It was a great love affair,” he says of the relationship. “The things we do for love,” he adds when recounting his wife, who was originally from the area. They bought an old run down farm, with Stovwell using his own skills to breathe new life into the building.
These days, Stovwell lives a quiet life, keeping to himself. He enjoys good health, and still drives his own car, something that he enjoys very much. “I have a great view of the Adirondack mountains. Every day I get to look at the sunset and sunrise, and it’s a very pleasant place to live,” Stovell says of his life here in Canada.