Even with a hundred years under his belt, life can still surprise Harold Searle which might be one of the secrets to his longevity.
“I just lived it day by day,” Searle says. “I didn’t worry about being killed tomorrow or anything like that, and just kept on livin’ and the first thing I knew, I was a hundred years old!”
In truth, there was much more than that, of course.
Searle was born in Saskatchewan and young Harold wanted to serve his country as a pilot in Second World War, but was rejected, so he applied to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. He kicked off a 25-year year career with the force in 1941 and retired at Christmas-time in 1966 before launching a second career as a probation officer.
It all means he’s not only lived history – he’s part of it.
When Winston Churchill passed though Halifax en route to meet U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt and Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King in Quebec City in 1943, Harold was among the officers assigned to protect the British prime minister in Canada.
They were all sworn to secrecy.
“I got back to Windsor the next morning, and I think everybody in Windsor knew he had passed through Halifax,” Searle said. “It wasn’t any secret.”
It’s been a week of tributes for Harold as more than a hundred gathered at RCMP headquarters in Dartmouth on the weekend to celebrate his birthday. And he never misses an opportunity to get together with other veterans.
He is the third-oldest former Mountie in the country, says Brian Brennan of the Nova Scotia RCMP.
“So, I’m quite proud of Harold,” said Brennan. “Harold has actually drawn twice as many years of pension as he actually put in — which I think is wonderful.”
Harold isa marvel even to his family as he lived on his own in Windsor until he was 97. He helped deliver Meals on Wheels into his early 90s and bowled until he was 95.
They admit arthritis has slowed him down in recent years, but he still enjoys the company of his younger girlfriend, Dorothy, who’s only 94.
He also still drives, but avoids the city, says his daughter, Helen Searle.
“But he will drive from his place … to me because it’s a straight highway,” she said.
Surrounded by loved-ones, Harold Searle now begins his second century of service, which is shaping-up much like the last-one.
“No, I really haven’t made any type of plans, other than going, pretty well the way I am,” he said.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Bruce Frisko.
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