Arlene Dewhirst, 94, poses for a photo at her home in Rimoka in Ponoka, Alta., on Thursday, June 3, 2021. Dewhirst, a lover of the arts, has dedicated her life to playing the piano, singing in the United Church Choir, and square dancing. (Photo by Madison Fleck/SAIT)

Seniors Week profile: A lifetime of music with Arlene Dewhirst

By Madison Fleck

For Ponoka News

Arlene Dewhirst has always loved music.

She was born in Ponoka in 1927. It was Easter Monday, and the ground was covered in 10 inches of snow. There was only one doctor.

“In those days Ponoka didn’t have a hospital,” said Dewhirst.

As a child, Dewhirst recalls swimming in the river near Ponoka with her family, and remarking how clear the water was.

“Like crystal,” she said.

Growing up, she discovered a talent for piano playing, and she would later go on to play at weddings, funerals and parties around Ponoka.

She met her husband, Herbert, through a mutual love of music while singing with the United Church Choir. The pair married in 1949, and enjoyed the art of square dancing together for the next 45 years.

Dewhirst, who used to work at the old Thomson Grocer in Ponoka, said that the town used to hold Saturday night dances. Back then, the grocery store dynamic was different. Instead of getting their own groceries, shoppers would instead leave an order for the grocers to package. Dewhirst spoke of packaging orders on Saturday nights, only to have the customers pick them up five minutes before the store closed.

“I had to work until 10 p.m., and it would grate on me because I just wanted to dance!”

Dewhirst shared her love of music by giving piano lessons out of her Ponoka home for 25 years. She speaks fondly of her time teaching her students the art of playing the ivory keys.

At the age of 94, Arlene Dewhirst has spent her life as an avid lover of dancing, singing, and playing the piano.

“Music is wonderful,” said Dewhirst. “I think it is one of the best things in this world.”

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