Abbotsford pioneer and historian Ernie Poignant celebrated his 102nd birthday on Thursday (Feb. 4).
He was recently joined by his wife Rose at his residence in Menno Home for a photo to mark the upcoming occasion. The pair will celebrate their 67th anniversary on May 29.
Poignant was born on Feb. 4, 1919 in his parents’ farmhouse in the Scandinavian community of Ridgedale in north Matsqui (which later amalgamated with Abbotsford).
Poignant, who first began cartooning as a young boy after his Swedish-born grandmother drew a stick man, turned his hobby into a lifelong passion.
His first cartoon was published in Canadian Poultry magazine in 1940. He also had cartoons appear in military publications while he served at various Canadian bases – including the Abbotsford Airport – during the Second World War.
Poignant moved to Quesnel in the early 1950s, where he worked as a compositor – and editorial cartoonist – for the weekly Observer. There, he met Rose, and both children – Val and Gary – were born in Quesnel.
The family moved to Maple Ridge in 1958, when Poignant assumed a similar role with the Maple Ridge Gazette as compositor and editorial cartoonist until he retired in 1984.
He expanded his series of chalk talk drawings that he had started in the 1960s, and entertained kids at BC Children’s Hospital, Canuck Place and Ronald McDonald House.
Poignant also travelled to Whistler from 1975 to 86 for their Children’s Arts Festival, where he instructed children how to draw cartoons.
After moving back to Abbotsford in 2003, Poignant used his first-hand knowledge and artistic skills to become a celebrated local historian.
From his work as a veteran with the Second World War Memory Project to volunteering on the 150th anniversary of the creation of the territory of British Columbia, Poignant has entertained and educated students at schools around Abbotsford.