Mr. John Butler, Over 100 years of Age Still Hale and Hearty—Interviewed by Warder While Hoeing Potatoes in the Garden—Voted at the Last Election—Lindsay’s Distinction.

Who is the oldest voter in Ontario?

From various places in the province come stories of very old men who registered their ballots during the last election. Robert Hope, of Villiers, a little village near Keene, who is in his 96th year, seemed to hold the record, but the record is held by a Lindsay citizen.


Living with his son-in-law on Durham St. at the southerly extremity of Victoria ave. lives the oldest man in the province who has the right to exercise manhood suffrage. John Butler, of Lindsay, is the name of the patriarch and he has passed his 100th birthday. Last election he went to the polls and cast his vote with the best citizens of the province.

For one hundred years John Butler has seen the sunrise and set and has watched the seasons come and go. Father time, so heartless in many cases, has dealt very leniently with this son of Adam, and through toil and hardship has been his lot, the five score years sit comparatively lightly on his shoulders, once erect and broad, but now bended with hard and toilsome work.


The Emerald Isle, the gem of the ocean, claims this centenarian as her son, and he still bears that deep- seated love for the land of his nativity, so common in the breasts of all Irishmen. “In dreams I re-visit thy wind beaten shore.”

So sang the poet, and the same feelings were expressed by Mr.Butler, in the same heart-felt way, though couched in more uncouth terms. When other things have slipped his memory remembrances of his birthplace still are deeply imprinted on his mind.


Reclining at the side of his garden on a bank of grass was where a Warder reporter first greeted this remarkable old Irishman. The handle of his hoe was grasped limply in his hand and he watched with kindling eye the small patch of beloved “taters” which a minute or two before he had been industriously hoeing. It was a hot day, too, yesterday afternoon, but- well, the potatoes had to be hoed, and who but an Irishman can coax out the tender stalks of this tuberous root? His age and the heat were secondary considerations.


The remarkable vitality of the man was the first impression that was imprinted on the mind of the reporter. Such a sweltering day, and such a hard task for such an old man!

But the most wonderful thing was the fact that there was no necessity to do the work. Perhaps the years of toil had made work habitual to the old man.

“Well, how are you to-day?” the Warder man asked after he had received a hearty handshake from the Mr. Butler.

“Oh, pretty well,” was the reply, “but this hot weather is a little trying.”


Mr. Butler was born in Clare county Ireland, in the early days of the eighteenth century. The old cottage with those four walls he was born was located near Limerick. His father’s name was also John Butler, and he was one of those persecuted Irish tenantry. The family of seven, Mr. Butler had four brothers and three sisters, suffered great hardship during the great potato famine in Ireland, and the next year John emigrated to America, with his brother Patrick. Hundreds of Irishmen left their native land at the same time, and they came out in ship- loads to the “land of promise.”


After a rough voyage lasting over eight weeks, the two brothers landed at Quebec on July 16,1853. They pursued their way, into the dense wildernesses of the interior and hewed a dwelling for themselves in the township of Artemesia in Grey County, near where Owen Sound now stands. Another brother, Thomas came to America shortly afterwards, and settled in Chicago. John is the only surviving member of his family. Life was exceedingly hard in those pioneer days. With his axe and a rifle the men had to toil to rescue the land from the reign of the forest and plant their crops. Meagre were the harvests at times, but indomitable pluck came to the assistance of the early settlers, and many were ultimately successful.


After living with his brother for some years, John Butler packed his kit, so to speak, and journeyed to the United States, settling in Arkansas. He was there during the bitter and bloody civil war, and had many interesting reminiscences to relate about the human strife. He was offered $1400 at one time to take the place of one who had been called to take up arms, but he refused the offer.


It was in the year 1863 that Mr. Butler came to Lindsay. This bright, hustling town, the finest in the province, was then a swampy cedar marsh on the banks of the Scugog. There were but two houses standing on the present site of the town then. Now hundreds of handsome residences beautify the town, and serve to show the prosperity of its inhabitants. For forty-five years this aged man lived in Lindsay and actually grew up with the town .He saw the cedar swamps disappear and level streets built. For a time the town was the center of an immense lumber traffic, and river-drivers made it their headquarters. It was a wild life they led, and whiskey was drunk like water. Hotels, or rather taverns, were located on every corner and dispensed the vile liquid to the alcohol-craving lumbermen.


With the cutting down of the trees in the neighborhood of the town the wild life disappeared and the place grew rapidly. Stores were erected and houses built. Disastrous fires visited the town at times, and Mr. Butler vividly recalls many a conflagration. The town arose from its ashes better than ever each time.


Very material assistance was given by Mr. Butler in the growth of the town. He had no trade, but his work was to carry the hod, and this he did for many a residence in town. In the winter he dug wells and performed other work of similar nature.


Perhaps it was the constant employment in the open air that is the secret of the long life of this veteran of the pioneer days of Canada. “Hard work never kills”, is an old saying, but it applies correctly in this instance. Some forty years ago Mr. Butler married Miss Mary Hogan, also an emigrant from Ireland, who had settled in Lindsay. She proved a loving helpmate to him, and together they lived happily for many years. Her death occurred some thirty years ago.


Five children were born as a result of this happy union. But two are living now. They are Mrs. Thos. Collins, of Lindsay, and Mrs. W. Ganter, of Artemesia township. One son, Dennis, was asphyxiated with gas in Rochester over twenty years ago. He had been in that city but one day when his untimely death overtook him.

The psalmist fixes the limit of man’s existence at seventy years, and Mr. Butler had exceeded that number by over thirty years. Beyond a slight deafness his natural senses are unimpaired. His family, have been as a rule, long-lived, but none have lived to be as old as he is at present. The exact date of his birthday is not known to Mr. Butler, but family records show him to be well over the hundred year mark.


Following we give accounts of other old voters who have been reported to be the oldest voters in Ontario.

Keene, June 16 – who was the oldest voter at the recent provincial election? There is but little doubt that the honor goes to Mr. Robert Hope, of Villiers, who is 96 years of age.

This gentleman, who is in spite oh his 96 years, is in good health, voted at Villiers polling subdivision. He spent a week before elections trying on different pairs of spectacles, that he might choose a pair to enable him to mark his ballot, as his eyesight is failing. On election - day he put in his appearance at 7 o’clock, and finding that the poll was not opened till 9 o’clock, walked some distance to his home and walked back at nine o’clock, polling the first vote polled at Villiers that day.

The Conservatives of this district feel very proud of Mr. Hope, and hope he will be on hand to mark his ballot at the next election.

Bowmanville News: Possibly the three oldest men in the county, or perhaps the Province to register their votes last election were Messrs. John Findlay, Kendal, in his 95th year; H.L. Powers, Kirby, in his 94th year, and Robert Morton, sixth line, in his 94th year. Their aggregate ages totaled 283 years.


As may be seen, the Lindsay man is a good deal older than aged men mentioned in foregoing accounts.

Lindsay may then claim one distinction at least the honor of having within our midst the oldest voter in the province of Ontario.

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