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On the Eve of His 100th Birthday, Barrie Man Walks to Raise Funds for a Green Future

Posted: July 27, 2020

By Noah Page

In June, Fred Mogelin began walking 800 meters-a-day, seven days a week, to raise money for Forests Ontario. Mogelin, a resident of the Simcoe Terrace Retirement Home in Barrie, will celebrate his 100th birthday on August 10th. To commemorate the occasion, he’s determined to help improve forest health and support Forests Ontario’s tree planting programs.

“Nothing bad will happen to this Earth as long as I’m living,” Mogelin said, as he sat in the shade of a maple tree on the retirement home grounds. Mogelin credits a story he saw on TV about Tom Moore, a British veteran supporting health workers by walking in his garden, with inspiring him to start walking for charity as well. Moore turned 100 on April 30 and has raised 32 million pounds for Britain’s National Health Service. The Queen knighted Moore on July 17.

Born in 1920 in the German city of Wuppertal, near the Dutch border, Mogelin learned to love nature in Wuppertal’s famed forests. As a child, Mogelin and his family gathered beech nuts and mushrooms to eat. His parents’ home had a 600 square-metre garden. Wuppertal was so rainy, Mogelin said, that the locals used to joke that “a baby is born wearing rubber boots.”

During World War II, Mogelin trained as a wireless operator in the German Navy. He learned to use radar systems in the German town of Bergen. Radar was new technology at the time, and Mogelin educated others in its use. In 1945, the British captured Mogelin on the Channel Islands and he spent a year-and-a-half in an English prisoner of war camp, working as a farmhand. Mogelin lost his brother, Horst, on the Eastern Front.

Mogelin emigrated to Canada in 1953, arriving by ship in Halifax. He planned to travel by train to Vancouver, but his money ran out in Toronto so he settled in Ontario. He followed in his father’s footsteps in carpentry, building patios and recreation rooms. During his holidays, Mogelin camped with his wife and children throughout Ontario along the shores of Lake Huron, Georgian Bay, Lake Erie and in Killarney. These trips inspired a lifelong passion for Ontario’s forests.

“Fred is a true inspiration.” said Rob Keen, CEO at Forests Ontario. “His passion and commitment to healthier forests and a healthier planet is something we should all aspire to. Thanks to the donations and support we receive, Forests Ontario has planted more than 34 million trees. These trees turn into forests – forests that fight climate change, support our wildlife, and improve our health.  I hope folks will reach out to help support Fred.  A $1.00 donation from each Ontarian would allow us to plant millions more each year.”

What is the secret to Mogelin’s longevity? “Everyone asks me, how do you get to be a hundred? And I tell them: garlic,” Mogelin said. He eats a whole clove of it every day, some of which he grows himself. He also makes his own Merlot and drinks about a glass a day, a bottle a week, he said. Fred has two children, four grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren. He enjoys watching soccer and reading about science, geography and nature. And every morning at about 7:30, you will find him strapping on his Birkenstocks to walk the length of the Simcoe Terrace parking lot four times to raise money for Forests Ontario. To sponsor Mogelin’s walks for Forests Ontario, donate via the Forests Ontario website and mark your donation in honour of Fred Mogelin.