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Barrhead man celebrates 105th birthday

Otto Enders commemorates the occasion with pizza dinner with his children
Otto Enders 105th birthday copy
Otto Enders celebrates his 105th birthday with his children Connie (l) and Shaw (r) in his suite at Hillcrest Lodge on Sept. 22.

On a September day at Hillcrest Lodge with his children Shawn and Connie, Otto Enders celebrated his 105th birthday.

Otto grew up on a farm in Stony Plain and was fourth oldest of 11 children. 

"He is the only one left," Connie said.

Otto said his parents, Peter and Catherine, were farmers and farmed two sections just outside the community.

"It was a mixed farm ... we had cattle, milked cows, did everything."

Otto recalls going to two schools in Rosenthal and Brightbank when his family moved to another farm, west of Stony Plain.

"It is still there. Not the school, but there is a community hall," Shawn said.

Otto enlisted in the army in 1942.

"I was supposed to go to Whitehorse, but everything changed and ended up being stationed on the west coast [of B.C.]," he said.

The change occurred after Japan bombed Pearl Harbour, and Canada became increasingly worried that they might attack via British Columbia.

Shawn noted his father was also part of an anti-aircraft artillery unit and as part of his duties, he spent time in Prince Rupert, Haida Gwaii (also known as the Queen Charlotte Islands) and Skagway, Alaska.

After the war, sometime in 1946, he was discharged from the Canadian Armed Forces. However, before getting his discharge papers, Otto said he was sent to Manitoba to help with the harvest.

Otto married his wife, Mildred (Mayer) in 1947. Connie was born in 1952,  Shawn in 1958.

"They met at a country dance in Stony Plain ... and were married for 50 years," Connie said.

The couple moved to Barrhead shortly after they were married, asi it is where his sister lived.

Otto rented his sister's farm, a mixed, operation after she decided to move into town.

"I didn't stay on the farm for too long," he said.

Otto added that around 1953 or 1954, he got a job with what was then Barrhead Transport, hauling freight mostly to Edmonton.

"I drove truck for 20 or 21 years," he said.

Shawn, who would often accompany his father on his route, said it wasn't as quick and simple as it is today.

"You didn't go through Gunn, you had to go to Manola, then Westlock, Clyde to Morinville," he said. "I'm not sure there was a bus back then because many times people would ride with my Dad into Edmonton."

As for the biggest change Otto has seen in Barrhead, he is not sure.

One of the most obvious is paved streets. "It was all dirt, with no sidewalks," he said.

Otto also remembers getting milk delivered to his house by a horse-drawn wagon.

His first car was a 1947 Mercury.

"He loved that car and babied it," Connie said, adding she remembers piling into the car to visit family in Stony Plain. "Shawn would sit in the front with Mom. He had a little heater in the back for me."

Connie added although television had been around for several years, in Barrhead, it was still a novelty, remembering that they got their first when she was six.

Connie said at first she was concerned about what would happen to her father when her mother passed away.

However, it turns out she did not have to be worried.

She said he has always been very independent and continued to be so after Mildred passed away.

Otto lived in the home he had with Mildred until he was 103.

"And he drove until he was 100," Connie said, noting that when he decided to give up his driver's licence, he gave her his car. "My children joke that most parents give their kids a car when they graduate high school or are 16. My dad bought me my first car when I was 65."

Barry Kerton, TownandCountryToday.com