The End of the Road series chronicles the stories of individuals and families of the Robson Valley, many of whom came from points around the globe to fertilize and strengthen our valley. This happens when they bring their gifts and culture from places like Europe, the United States, or places across Canada. In this instance we visited Dot Hewitt both at her 95th birthday party and later in her home in McBride.
One of 9 children born to the Basso family in Sundridge, Ontario, Dot started life as a tiny baby of just 2 lbs. Though not expected to survive, she did and though small in stature, she has led a rich and productive life raising a family that is now scattered across the country, from Sundridge, Douglas and Niagara to Prince Rupert, Vernon, Victoria and McBride. She leads a busy life, participating in a bible reading group, regularly attending EV Free Church and hosting and visiting her many friends and family in the local area and further afield.
Married to Al Hewitt for over 61 years, Dot moved first to the Crescent Spur area in 1971 before moving into McBride in 1980 where she has now lived for three and a half decades. I have the privilege of being a proximate neighbour living perhaps two blocks away….but because of walking our puppy frequently pass her immaculate home. Visiting Dot in her home yesterday proved that the neat, well manicured grounds of her home are mirrored on the inside by equally attractive and well maintained furnishings and paint. Although she was quick to tell me that it wouldn’t be too long before another upgrade was due.
Dot’s birthday, which is actually in December, was celebrated in mid-October in order for six of her brothers to come to celebrate it with her. They arrived for the Thanksgiving weekend and gave thanks for the opportunity to be together once again to celebrate her birthday or as Dot said herself…to have a bit of a family reunion and dinner at her granddaughter’s home. Before that event though the EV Free family and other friends including Dan and Marilyn Carlaw from Prince George and others from California gathered 130 strong to share a wonderful turkey and ham dinner at the church. Dot, resplendent in her tiara, celebrated and remembered her lengthy life through a photo montage and presentation from her granddaughter.
When asked what machine had made the biggest impact on her life, she showed her sense of humour when she answered ‘the washing machine – never did like the washboard.’ How many of us even remember that antiquated piece of equipment unless you were involved in an old fashioned folk singing group and played it as a musical instrument.
Dot spoke of meals shared and reciprocated with local friends as the highlight of her life these days, however she noted that numerous people drop by to take her to appointments and to social outings. One of her favourite activities is carpet bowling with the Old Age Pensioners Organization.
Quick to offer a cup of coffee, Dot brought back even more memories for me, when she opened a box of tinned biscuits. I was once a Peek Frean salesman for several years so that particular memory is well entrenched for me. Dot was quick to invite me back with my wife…the spirit of neighbourliness is strong with her generation.
Dot’s granddaughter, Kathy Molendyk is the secretary at McBride Secondary and the two are frequent attendees at a variety of functions and travel regularly to the Okanagan and to the Lower Mainland to visit relatives. She enjoys good conversation and loves to tell stories about her incredible and lengthy life…and to give thanks.
Dot we are proud to have you in our midst, proud of your energy and commitment to life in general…and your willingness to continue to be one of the cornerstones of our community. Many thanks for sharing this story with us.