| May 10, 2007

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Feature Article - May 10, 2007

Bill and Tena Flieler:citizens of Fernleigh

by Katie Ohlke


Living in the heart of Fernleigh are Bill (Willy) and Tena Flieler, with their small dog "Midget." Bill maintains that they hold the title of the oldest living couple in the area. Bill was born in Plevna on April 21, 1921, and spent his first two years there.His father then bought the farm in Fernleigh and Bill has lived on the property ever since. "This was my grandparents' house. My parents lived next door [currently the Bain residence] but all of the old outbuildings and barn are long gone now," notes Flieler. Bill spent his entire school career in the Fernleigh school house, completing the tenth grade and graduating at the age of 15. "After that, I worked on the farm because I was big enough to do the work.That's all I did until I was 18 years old, and that is when I started guiding for Fernleigh Lodge." Chuckling, Bill remarks that he still guides for a family from Syracuse after all these years, "When I am too old to go out in the boat with them, they will stop coming up here!" When World War II broke out, Bill was 18. At that point, the Canadian government had stated that there would be positively no exemptions from service. It wasn’t until he was 21, in June, 1942, that Bill received notice that he was to report for his Army Medical Examination, and to then for military training. "I wrote a letter to postpone my training so that I could help Dad get the crop off. We had cattle, horses, sheep, and pigs," says Flieler. "Then, I received a letter from the War Department stating that my service call was postponed until further notice. At that time, you could enlist or be drafted, but no new training date was set for me. At that point, I wrote the War Department back andthey let me know that I was not needed, and would not be until men in agriculture were called up." Bill still has this letter in its original envelope."I was going to enlist in the Air Force, until I got letters from two of my cousins serving overseas.They told me to stay out of the mess if I could. So I took their advice." Tena was born in Harlowe on March 14, 1927, and lived there until August, 1944, when she left to get married.Tena attended school in Harlowe until the sixth grade. At that time, she and her sister left school to help support their ailing mother. "I worked in Kingston at the old Davis Tannery and my sister worked at the Aluminum Plant for three years." Bill and Tena met at a dance in Harlowe and fell in love. After they were married, Tena worked as the local telephone operator for 10 years. "The switchboard was in the house," she said. Bill went on to say that after the war, the farm prices and wages got so far out of line, people were practically forced out of farming.In 1946, when the rural hydro line went through, Bill got a job working on the crew. After that, reasoning that houses would need wiring, he worked under two qualified electricians and learned the trade from them.“In 1950, I worked for myself as an electrician and electrical contractor. I did that for 35 years. When television came in 1954, I thought that looked like a good field to get into.I enrolled in a six month tele-electronics course in Toronto. I then worked for the agency Canadian Ad Rule, selling and servicing their sets, until they went bankrupt in 1979." He then worked for Electrohome as a factory-authorized service repairman until he retired in 1986. In 1955,Bill got involved in municipal politics and was a member of council for 30 years, until 1985. He spent 19 years serving on council and 11 years as reeve.

"In 1968, the Ontario Government said that we should have a conservation authority set up, and I was appointed as a member for this township," Flieler remembers. Even though his council was against it, the motion squeaked through by one vote. "Much to my surprise, I was notified, without me even being there, that I was appointed to the conservation authority!" Flieler served on the executive for its first 12 years, despite 10 years being the maximum for a position. "The 11th & 12th time, okay, but 13? I said, 'No way! That is against our rules!' I had no recourse but to refuse the nomination. I said someone else needed a turn!" The Flielers have four children, Gordon, Gail, Howard and Mark, 11 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren.They continue to enjoy fishing and hunting and their life in Fernleigh.

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