Dr. Robert Wiener, Canada’s oldest man, died on Sunday. He was 110 years old.
Wiener was born in 1908 in Montreal. He grew up in the Mile End area, when horse-drawn carriages, not cars, were the norm. Celebrating his 110th birthday last fall, he told Global News he remembered playing hockey on streets freshly plowed by horses.
Wiener attended McGill University and studied dentistry, becoming an oral surgeon. He eventually taught dentistry at McGill for several decades.
One of his surviving children, Neil Wiener, says one of his father’s proudest professional accomplishments was founding a dental clinic for people with limited means at the Jewish General Hospital.
“Contributing to your community, those are the things which animated my father’s life,” said Neil Wiener, “and those are lessons no matter what the year is or what the technology is, those are human qualities that are very important.”
Wiener married the love of his life, Ella, and went on to have three children and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They were married for 73 years before she died seven years ago.
Remarkably, Wiener never suffered any serious illnesses. His brother also lived to 109 years old, and the brothers participated in several studies examining their genetics. Wiener’s family say his longevity was partly good genes, and partly a healthy lifestyle. He swore by a Mediterranean diet, and exercised every day, cycling on a stationary bike and doing weights.
That incredible dedication to a healthy, happy life, always impressed his family.
It’s something they’ll miss terribly.
“I will definitely keep him at the front of my mind forever and try to live more like he did with such positivity and optimism,” said Dr. Aviva Lowe, his granddaughter.
Wiener’s family and friends gathered this week in Montreal to sit Shiva, and reflect back on the incredible life of the man they all adored.
“I think we can learn there are certain qualities that are important no matter how old or young you are,” said Neil Wiener. “Or what year it is. Those are treating others with respect and being modest about your own accomplishments.”
Wiener’s greatest affliction — his broken heart, after Ella died seven years ago.
Now, his family takes comfort imagining this extraordinary man is back with the love of his life once again. A life lived well, and well lived.