Quilt of Valour presented to 103-year-old Birch Hills veteran

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald Back (L to R) Wayne Sarginson, Virginia Sarginson and Ron Lyons; front Tom Hunter and Joyce Hunter. The Birch Hills Legion branch presented Hunter with a Quilt of Valour on Saturday, Oct. 8.

One of Saskatchewan’s oldest veterans was honoured with a Quilt of Valour at his home in Birch Hills on Saturday, Oct. 8.

The Birch Hills Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 122 presented 103-year-old Tom Hunter with a quilt during a special ceremony. Hunter said he was grateful, but surprised, to receive such an honour.

“Actually I had never heard of it before but it really is something to be able to put in a guy’s life,” Hunter said.

Hunter enlisted with the Canadian Army in 1940, and began training as a mechanic and vehicle driver. His training took him around the country, and he deployed overseas in 1943 with the rank of corporal.

He returned to Birch Hills in 1946 after he was discharged, and still lives there with his wife Joyce. Hunter was modest when asked about his lengthy service.

“The only thing that is important about the long serving members is that they get a lot of payments come their way that they never even thought that they would,” he said.

Legion president Ron Lyons presented the quilt along with Wayne Sarginson and Virgina Sarginson.

The quilts are made by Quilts of Valour-Canada Society, whose mission is to ensure that all Canadian military members, past and present, who are ill or injured as a result of their service and sacrifice are recognized and honoured with a Quilt of Valour.

Lyons said they were happy to recognize Hunter for his service. It was also important to recognize the contributions made by Birch Hills residents during the Second World War.

“The Birch Hills Legion Branch 122 journey with Tom began in 1940 with his enlistment and overseas deployment in the Canadian Armed Forces,” Lyons said. “Tom had now become part of World War II and time would reveal that Birch Hills and area would see 191 of our district residents enlist and sadly 43 never returned home.

“On Tom’s return in 1946 he returned a quiet and composed man with a desire to help others through tough times. Tom wasn’t interested in leading the pack but was very interested in helping anywhere his talents would make a difference for he and everyone who lived in and around Birch Hills was and still is his top priority,” he added.

Hunter was born in Deloraine Manitoba in June 9, 1919 and his family moved to the Birch Hills area in 1925. He found work in Ontario in 1937 and returned to Saskatchewan when war was declared in 1939.

After the presentation, Hunter made a speech to thank the crowd.

“I want to offer my deep thanks for what these men have done to give me the rug,” he said. “Although I am getting too old to think of or do something else, I really offer my thanks for this morning (for) what these men have done.”

The ceremony was held in the garage of the Hunter’s home on McCallum Avenue. There was a large crowd in the driveway and seats set up for people in the garage.