REMEMBERING CANADA’S TOP SCOUT – WALTER WOOD (December 17/19)

He earned some of Scout Canada’s highest awards and at one time was the oldest active Scout in Canada. To my surprise, I found him profiled in Wikipedia which notes he is “still known as the oldest Boy Scout in the Commonwealth of Nations.”

In a scouting career that spanned nearly 80 years, Wood influenced the lives of several generations of youths in the Kentville area. He is still well remembered today by countless youths, many of them now seniors, who served with him as scouts.

This was Walter Wood (1876-1981) who arrived in Kentville circa 1908 to sign on with the D.A.R. Walter spent his entire career working as a machinist with the railway. During those railway years and well after he retired, he was active in the scouting movement. When he was saluted in his 90th birthday in The Advertiser, the editor wrote that next to scouting founder Lord Baden-Powell, his name “was almost a byword in the Valley’s scouting movement.”

Wood was born in London, England, and he came to Canada with his family in 1896, settling first in New Brunswick and then in Kentville. Almost from the first he became active with the Boy Scouts. As best as can be determined, Wood became involved in the scouting movement after his wife died in 1928. In that year he organized the 2nd Kentville Boy Scout Troop. When he retired from the railway in 1941 at age 65, Wood devoted his life full time to scouting. Besides receiving several of the top scouting awards, he received perhaps his greatest recognition when in 1978 he was honoured by being appointed to the Order of Canada.

“Walter Wood has probably done more for boys in this area than anyone, Rev. Freeman Fenerty wrote at the time of Wood’s death. “Several generations of youth have been influenced by his spirit of fair play and good citizenship through his activity in Scouting, camping and church hockey. For several generations, Wood gave dedicated leadership to youths and his influence has enriched the lives of many.”

When Wood celebrated his 90th birthday, Advertiser editor Harold Woodman wrote the following: “Ask any youngster in the Annapolis Valley the name of the founder of the Scout movement, and he will tell you it was Lord Baden-Powell. Ask him the name of some other important Scouting personage and he will almost invariably say Walter Wood.”

Even when he reached his 90th year, Wood remained active in Scouting. In his tribute to Wood, Rev. Fenerty remarked that when he was in his 90s, Wood organized a new Cub Pack at Bethany Memorial Baptist church in Aldershot. “Here he was welcomed with open arms, “Fenerty said, “and given a special place in the Cub program.”

One of his final honours was being presented with the key to the Town of Kentville, and naming a public park area in the town after him.

Walter Wood has been hailed as the oldest Scout in the Commonwealth of Nations. (Contributed).

Walter Wood has been hailed as the oldest Scout in the Commonwealth of Nations. (Contributed).

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