SASKATOON – He’s the type of man who creates a curiosity wherever he goes. He’s quick and nimble and can often be found at area auction sales, gathering trinkets and goodies for resale.
“My name is Middleton, Orville Middleton and my age, I hate to say it, but 93 … 93-and-a-half,” Middleton said with a chuckle making note of the importance of including half years at his age.
From the war to the Borden Bridge: meet Orville Middleton in “Your People.” File / Global News
From the war to the Borden Bridge: meet Orville Middleton in “Your People.”
File / Global News
He’s become a recognizable face in Saskatoon, but few know his story, until now. Middleton is the focus of Global Saskatoon’s “Your People” feature, an inside look at interesting people in and around Saskatoon.
The interview takes place in Middleton’s repurposed store, Baseline Sales on Alberta Avenue. The shop holds characteristics of hoarding and feverish collecting that often takes place over the course of a long life.
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His peculiarity begins during the Second World War when he was 19-years-old.
“I graduated from high school in 1941 and I joined the air force as a ground gunner,” said Middleton. “I went to England, spent most of my time in England. When the bomber stream would come back that’s when we’d see the action. There were sometimes that night fighters would come back with the bomber stream.”
Middleton was transferred to various locations during the war, moves he believes are attributed to his quick thinking and enthusiasm. He escaped the war unharmed aside from an injury to his arm. Following his time as a ground gunner Middleton spent the early year’s of his 20s cleaning up concentration camps.
“It was a traumatic experience. I remember going into one place, you could smell it seven miles away,” he said. After two years on the job, he miraculously maintained his spirit, humour, and good nature, returning to Canada and looking to make a buck wherever he could.
Once home, Middleton was married, worked in the oil field, started a coin operated car wash, a rollerblading rink and eventually his current collectable shop.
“There’s lots of camping equipment, sleeping bags and things to cook things in,” said Middleton while leading us through the organized chaos.
The 93-year-old owns a bit of everything, the abandoned Borden Bridge included.
Orville Middleton owns the abandoned Borden Bridge 40 kilometers northwest of Saskatoon on Highway 16. File / Global News
Orville Middleton owns the abandoned Borden Bridge 40 kilometers northwest of Saskatoon on Highway 16.
File / Global News
He bought it from the provincial government in 2007 for $33,000.
“It was going to be a dance hall,” explained Middleton. “If the weather was nice you could dance there and the rest would be closed in.”
Municipal politics quashed that idea so he’s willed the bridge to the Canadian Wildlife Association. At the rate he’s going though, it could be a while till that transfer happens.
“It’d sure be nice to live forever,” said Middleton.
And, he’s working toward it. The 93-year-old is in great health. His mind is sharp as a tack and with pride he explains that at a recent doctor’s appointment, an X-ray revealed his spine is in the same condition as someone at middle age.
Middleton’s also a huge believer in the controversial chelation therapy. He electively started the treatment in the early 2000s. His wife needed open heart surgery and the couple was hesitant. They flew to Kelowna instead to try chelation.
It’s a chemical process summarized by the injection of a synthetic solution, ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA), into the bloodstream by intravenous. The EDTA attaches to heavy metals in the blood stream and then removes them from the body through the kidneys.
The treatment originated as a way to treat lead poisoning. According to Middleton, a side bonus was the effect it had on clearing cholesterol blockages in arteries, making it a process the Middleton’s wanted to try.
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