Ted Webb

The kindness of a Canadian soldier inspired a young Ted Webb to immigrate here. An avid cyclist, he later founded Le Tour de Terra Cotta.

September 16, 2016 | | Over the Next Hill

Snapshot: Meet a Community Elder

When Ted Webb was 18, he made one of the biggest decisions of his life – because of a green cotton shirt. The year was 1952, and as a young British soldier stationed near Hamburg, Germany, he had hooked up with some Canadian soldiers while on leave.

At the time, the British soldiers’ khaki-coloured shirts were made of itchy wool. Ted openly admired the cotton shirts of his Canadian counterparts, and to his delight, a freshly laundered and folded cotton shirt arrived at his barracks the next day.

That simple act of generosity determined Ted’s destiny. Five years later, he landed in Halifax with big dreams.

The kindness of a Canadian soldier inspired a young Ted Webb to immigrate here. An avid cyclist, he later founded Le Tour de Terra Cotta. Photo by Rosemary Hasner / Black Dog Creative Arts.

The kindness of a Canadian soldier inspired a young Ted Webb to immigrate here. An avid cyclist, he later founded Le Tour de Terra Cotta. Photo by Rosemary Hasner / Black Dog Creative Arts.

His career path in Canada took him to Massey-Harris and Dow Chemicals, where he worked until he semiretired at age 50.

To the six-year-old Ted living in London during World War II, the life he leads today was inconceivable. He was twice evacuated to the country, initially for eight months and then for nearly five long years, each time leaving home with only one change of clothes in a pillowcase.

Now living in Terra Cotta, Ted says his decision to immigrate to Canada was one of his smartest. A passionate cyclist and a founder of Le Tour de Terra Cotta, he has, over the years, competed in the annual races at various distances. This year, he entered the 52-kilometre race for competitors older than 70 – and finished fourth in a field of 70- and 71-year-olds. Not bad for an 83-year-old who had knee-replacement surgery not very long ago.

In 2014 Ted travelled to Normandy for the 70th anniversary of D-Day. With welling eyes, he recalls seeing maple leaf flags flying everywhere and watching a group of young French schoolchildren recite the names of the 28 Canadian soldiers who were killed liberating their village three generations earlier.

For a proud Canadian who lived through World War II in London, that’s about as emotional as it gets.

If you know an elder who should be profiled, please send your suggestion to [email protected]

About the Author More by Gail Grant

Gail Grant is a freelance writer who lives in Palgrave.

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