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Lodge resident approaches 103, credits good genes with longevity
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Lodge resident approaches 103, credits good genes with longevity Featured

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At 102 years old, Hugh Mechin knows aging isn’t for the faint of heart. Sitting in his warm room at Helen Henderson Retirement Lodge in Amherstview on a cold winter afternoon in early 2024, Hugh talks with a clarity that defies his age. He never falters with dates and names when talking about himself. He also doesn’t hesitate to share the secret of his long and healthy life.

“It’s good genes,” he replies clearly “That’s the main thing. It’s essential.”

Since his birth on Sept. 26, 1921, Hugh has witnessed global events such as: Beginning of WWII in 1939; founding of the first McDonald’s Restaurant in California in 1940; end of WWII in September 1945; founding of NATO in April 1949; discovery of DNA in February 1953; construction of the Berlin Wall in August 1961; assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King in April 1968; landing on Moon in July 1969; birth of the Internet in January 1983; fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989; terrorist attack on the US called 9/11 on September 2001; discovery of the God Particle near Geneva in July 2012; and, start of COVID-19 pandemic in March 2022.

From this list, Hugh fought and survived WWII, survived an infection of the COVID-19 virus, and feels science & technology are the biggest concerns facing humanity, today.

“I was lucky in the war, I lived,” he says with his trademark smile, referring to his service as a pilot in the Canadian Air Force. “I always have been lucky. I had good friends and a good life.”

As for his feelings about the world today, he admits, “The world has changed completely since WWII, primarily because of science and the computer. All these things have had great value in lengthening life from a medical standpoint. The computer can’t help but affect every aspect of life; good and bad.”


Sitting on his walker near a neatly made bed and a comfortable recliner chair, Hugh reflects proudly on his life. He enjoyed his work at a small branch with Canadian Customs which allowed him to see most of Canada. “Travel really does broaden people’s lives and improve their way of thinking,” he says wisely. “It played a big part in my life.”

Looking around Hugh’s room, pictures of his family adorn his walls. He raised three children (two surviving) with his wife who passed away in 1996. He is completely satisfied with what he has accomplished in life and doesn’t feel the need to do more.

He decided to live at Helen Henderson Retirement Lodge because his mother lived there before him. Although he has outlived his siblings, Hugh still has a few surviving cousins. Longevity is in both his maternal and fraternal sides of the family.

“Death doesn’t scare me,” he says with unwavering honesty. “I think that’s partly because of the war. We took it for granted that it would, or could, happen.”

Hugh is seemingly aging in a healthy way, but he hasn’t escaped the aging process entirely. He wears a hearing aid and was deemed legally blind 15 years ago.

“I still have some vision,” he notes. “But reading is beyond me, now.”

Interestingly, Hugh is one of four people over 100 who reside at the home which makes him part of an exclusive club. “It’s amazing to have so many centenarians in our retirement lodge,” says Manager Erin Woodcox. “We love to hear about their experiences. Their stories are part of the fabric of Canada’s history. It’s remarkable that Hugh was attached to the Royal Air Force and stationed in England during WWII. Our residents have done and seen remarkable feats.”

Asked how he feels about his membership in such an exclusive club, Hugh replies with a laugh, “I don’t feel anything. We’re no different than anyone else. We’re just older, that’s all. In some ways I would not recommend old age. Let’s face it, you miss the ability to do things physically; you tire easily. Being right here, right now, is pretty good.”

Helen Henderson Care Centre is proud of the history and experiences of our residents. To learn more about living or working in our home, please call 613-384-4585.

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