Harding, William

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                            HARD WORK NEVER KILLED ANYONE
                                  By Monica Inman


Spirits were dampened in Plaster Rock on Feb. 01, when the town’s oldest resident passed away at the age of 102. Bill Harding, known to some as Willie, will always be remembered as a real gentleman and true Christian.

He was often heard saying. “I never murmur” meaning he never complained. Bill loved life and lived his life to the fullest.

On Aug. 22, 1891 he was born in Tabusintac. He was the oldest of eight in the family of Charles and Settira (Price) Harding. Bill was a brother to Jacob, Blanche, Douglas, Elbridge, twins, Brenda and Alice, and to Harris.

At the age of twenty-eight he and Sarah Price were married. They were parents to a family of four. Through them they were blessed with five grandchildren. Then came two great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandson.

“Little Grampie” was the pet name given him by some of his great-grandchildren. He was called “Uncle Willie” by many of his friends and family members of Tabusintac. There was no Mr. “Harding” as far as Bill was concerned.

Bill had no ‘schooling’. He told everyone he went to school on a couple of rainy days when he wasn’t working. “He could neither read nor write, but he had a lot of knowledge” said his grandson.

As a young boy, he always did his share of chores on the farm. At the age of twelve he went to work in the woods with his father. After working a couple of years on log drives on the Tobique, he and Jacob were hired by Fraser’s Mill.

As brothers, Bill and Jacob were always inseparable. Together in 1929, they moved their families from Tabusintac to Plaster Rock. Every summer they worked on ‘the pond’ at the mill. After regular work shifts, they kept busy by picking up ‘dead head logs’ or by cutting logs behind where the Plaster Rock Centennial Arena now stands. During the winters, they stayed in the woods and cut logs. After working all day, Bill worked at knitting his own mittens and darning his socks.

Nothing stopped them from spending weekends with their families. Every Saturday night, he and Jacob, walked in from the camp at ‘orphans home’ on Trouser’s Lake Road and back on Sunday night.

Retiring, at the age of sixty-nine, didn’t mean Bill was done work. It meant he had more time to put his grandson to work. His grandson fondly remembers the times they worked together on his days off school. He recalls one outing when the chainsaw broke after they cut only three trees. They continued to cut using a bucksaw until was earned to pay for the chainsaw! “He never stopped talking long enough for the flies to bother him,” his grandson said. His grandfather would continue to talk long after the grandson started the chainsaw. Bill was quoted as having often said, “I have enough tongue for seven sets of teeth.”

His wife, Sarah, passed away in 1969, not long after they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. During their last fifty years together, Sarah was badly crippled by arthritis. Bill waited on her hand and foot, and never once complained. Chances are she was served many of his favourite meals. Bill couldn’t get enough of salt herring and potatoes. He loved his tea, which he poured into and drank from a saucer.

                                 Love For Children

He always loved children and dogs and they loved him. There were always children around him, and he always had a dog. All of his dogs were named “Jack” with the exception of his last two.

All of the family gatherings were at Bill’s – he held the family together. At these gatherings, he was always trying to sing, but he never could. Everyone knew it.

At his 100th birthday party, he volunteered a speech. No notes, or microphones were used, and he was clearly heard. He spoke of Tabby and of many things from the past. One of the things he talked about was the first car he had ever seen. After the birthday supper, he wanted the party to go on, and was disappointed when people had to go home.

He was known as a man who had friends, but no enemies – said a life-long friend, Mac MacCullum. Mac said, “Willie never had a cruel word to say against anyone. He was always there for anyone who needed a helping hand.”

The United Pentecostal Church in Perth-Andover was fortunate to have Bill as a member. Rev. Lewis and Bill were great friends. They travelled to Newfoundland, Ontario and Nova Scotia together. Three years ago they came down the Tobique in a canoe from Nictau to Plaster Rock. Bill continued to enjoy canoe trips up until two years ago.

When Bill, Sarah and their family moved to Plaster Rock, they first lived up over the old ‘Farmers’ Store. Then he bought a piece of land on Post Street, originally owned by William Post. Later he built a home which started out as a log cabin. Fortunately, his good health enabled him to live in that very home with Robert until the last five weeks of his 102 years.

The people who knew and loved him will never forget Bill Harding. He always said “hard work never killed anyone” and he proved it. At 97 years of age, he was still splitting wood. He still piled his own wood at the age of 99. A couple of years ago he helped when the roof on the family camp was shingled.


Source: Miramichi Leader – February 16, 1994

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