Taking it one step at a time

By Merna Emara
Staff Writer

No talking at the dinner table was one rule among many at the Jones house. As a longtime health inspector in the Rainy River District, Harry Jones, 90, knew exactly how many septic fields had been put in the district, where they all were and what was in them. His deep knowledge, although fascinating, did not make for an appetizing conversation at the dinner table.

Not just a health inspector, but a member of the Kiwanis club for 23 years and a highly skilled square dancer. Jones, born and raised in Liverpool, England, came to Canada with his wife, Dorothy, and three children in 1970.

Blind dates usually end in a funny story to tell at a dinner party but rarely do they lead to something more. Jones and Dorothy were the exception. They got married in 1955 and Jones said it was the best day of his life.

They had three children: Susan, Philip and Pamela.

Fort Frances was not their first stop. The Jones family first moved to Thunder Bay, a city Jones called very windy. Jones was the medical officer of health there before moving to Fort Frances.

“We lived in Thunder Bay for two years,” Jones said. “We built our house in Fort Frances in 1972. This is a very friendly town.”

He said he made good friends in the community from his involvement in the Kiwanis club and the auctions he did with Bob Lidkea.

“I used to do TV and radio auctions. We had wonderful fundraisers,” Jones said. “We travelled a lot. We went to Australia, Manitoba, B.C. and Calgary.”

His workplace stories as health inspector may have made others squeamish, but Harry Jones had no shortage of friends. A life of community involvement kept him active and social, with auctions, fundraisers, square dancing and 23 years in the Kiwanis Club. – Merna Emara photo

The friendships that Jones cultivated over the years in Fort Frances were evident at his 50th wedding anniversary with Dorothy where 160 people showed up to celebrate the joyous occasion.

“This was always the party house,” Jones said, adding that his three children were always responsible for planning all the parties and setting up for any occasion.

Prior to getting married and moving to Canada, Jones spent two years in Egypt in the army.

“I was a signalman in the Royal Corps of Signals,” Jones said. “When you were 21, you were caught up to do two years of service. We used to swim in the Suez Canal.”

Jones obtained his post-secondary degree from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in Bloomsbury. He then signed up with the city as an assistant inspector.

“I really enjoyed my job,” Jones said. “I met a lot of people. I had to inspect the kitchens of the restaurants, the hospitals, the schools and the abattoirs.”

Jones’s work ethic can be attributed to his father who Jones said was a large influence in his life.

Jones has acquired a lot of wisdom over nine decades and said the key to managing his job, children and other commitments is to take one thing at a time.