The World's Oldest Paperboy

…by Laura Tutlies

There are no statistics available to prove that Harry Smith is NOT "the World's Oldest Paperboy". In fact, there doesn't even seem to be a category for paperboys in the 'Guinness Book of Records' - but there should be! This East Beaches, Winnipeg Free Press paperboy just had his 78th birthday. The title he bears has been lovingly endowed by his neighbours, friends and his customers - the folks who live in Lakeshore Heights and two other lakeside subdivisions just south of Grand Beach.

Keep in mind that this senior never delivered a newspaper until after his 74th birthday. His motivation at the time was to provide a community service while getting himself into shape after a heart attack and then two surgeries on each of his knees in 2004. He had never considered this time honoured occupation as a "full time" career while growing up in Fisher Branch, Manitoba. In fact, when the Manitoba Free Press became the Winnipeg Free Press in 1931 Harry Smith wasn't yet a twinkle in his parent's eyes.

These days Harry Smith has been comfortably retired for 13 years after many years of work in the "overhaul" division of Air Canada. He was 78 at the end of July; yet even when those of us in our fifties feel pooped at the end of the day (and sometimes at the beginning), you'd be hard pressed to find a man of his energy and enthusiasm anywhere. Harry is always the first in line for a good time. He is a regular at community events, a volunteer for the huge East Beaches Family Festival every winter, plus he is the kind of neighbour you can count on in a pinch.

Did I mention that even with knee surgery Harry Smith is also a great dancer? Somehow he captured the heart of one of the nicest ladies you could hope to meet and married her 48 years ago. Alice and Harry are usually the first couple up on the polished hardwoods of the Grand Marais dance hall when there is a benefit social or "good music" in the offering. Harry and Alice can show the youngsters just how a waltz or jive really should be articulated. Many times I have admired their skill and perfect timing on the dance floor and to me, it speaks volumes about rapport and of two lives well lived - together. Life wasn't always easy. Harry lost his father when he was young and saw much of Canada before settling down in Winnipeg and saying the I do's with Alice.

The truth is that Harry Smith pushes the notch just a little higher for folks finding themselves close to eight decades of life experience. As a Free Press paper boy he is likely the best to be had. At 6:00 the papers are delivered to his door and ten minutes later he is on the road from Boulder Bay to Whitesand Estates a distance of just over seven kilometres. Our Free Press arrives well before we fill the teapot at 6:30 a.m.. Harry delivers the daily news from Spring until Fall - without fail. "Rainy days are the worst and sometimes I get drenched." says Harry. "The papers have to be stuffed into plastic bags so they don't get soggy. My biggest challenge are those places that don't have a paper box or a storm door that I can squeeze the paper into".

Be advised. When you are on Harry's paper route you not only get your paper on time and dry, but you will also get a story or commentary from Harry on the state of the world. You may also be privy to a story about one of his own shenanigans, - that is, if you are awake to greet him. This season Smith is delivering 45 papers weekly, 160 papers on Saturdays and in excess of 85 papers on Sundays. If he has leftover papers, he stops folks on the street or offers a paper to the inhabitants of the "summer only" cottages that don't receive a regular paper. The personable, energetic and irrepressible Harry Smith is one of our "cottage country" icons and folks here are an adoring fan club who are very grateful for the excellent service and the privilege of knowing the "Worlds Oldest Paperboy".

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