Ern was born in Chapel Arm, NL (not Canada) in 1948, the eldest of 7 children of Ray and Mary (nee Reid). The first 6 years of schooling were in a 2-room school in Chapel Arm, and Grades 7 to 11 was at the regional high school in Norman’s Cove. Graduating in 1965 with Honours, he was awarded the Electoral District Scholarship. He attended Memorial University for 5 years, graduating in 1970 with degrees in education and science. Before graduating from MUN, he already had been hired by the Department of Education as a Mathematics Instructor at the Vocational School in Clarenville, taking up the position in April, 1970. Later, while working at the college, he completed a Master of Mathematics degree in 1986 from the University of Waterloo, ON, through distance learning. Also, while working in the insurance industry, he completed his Chartered Life Underwriter designation in 1998 through distance learning from the Canadian Institute of Chartered Life Underwriters and Chartered Financial Consultants.
Kay was born and raised in Little Catalina, the only child to a fisherman father and a teaching mother. After graduation from T.A. Lench High School in 1970, she attended Vocational School (now College of the North Atlantic) in Clarenville, and graduated from the Secretarial Program there. Before the end of the school year, she was hired by Pro-con to work at their construction offices at the new refinery in Come-by-Chance.
Kay and Ern were married in 1971, and Kay ceased work to raise a family of two: their son, Lee, who has his own computer business in Clarenville, and daughter, Amy, who teaches music at a high school near Peterborough, ON. Both of them share their parents’ entrepreneurial spirit, and, from an early age, ran their own part-time businesses. Kay returned to work for a while with Canada Post in Clarenville, and was among the first hired to open the new branch of the Bank of Montreal in Clarenville.
Ern grew up in a family with a strong work ethic, and from an early age developed an entrepreneurial spirit, from small boat fishing, working part time and summers while at MUN, to taking on extra classes’ nighttime at Vocational School, and selling insurance part-time from home, beginning in 1974. The part-time insurance business grew, with the assistance of Kay and other employees, in the years from 1974 to 1989, to the point where a decision was made to work full-time at insurance, and Ern resigned from the College in 1989. Additional office space was obtained, and Ern and Kay both worked fulltime together for the next 10 years as representatives of Anthony Insurance Inc for Property and Casualty Insurance, and with Ern continuing as a broker for his Life Insurance and Investment business through many of the largest Life Insurance companies in Canada. In addition to managing the Clarenville Office of Anthony Insurance Inc, Ern also oversaw their sub-agents and offices in Bonavista, Musgravetown, Arnold’s Cove, Marystown, Grand Bank, Glovertown, Whitbourne, Bay Roberts, Carbonear, Lead Cove, and Holyrood.
Tired of paying rent to others during those 10 years, they partnered with two other business owners, formed WEB Investments Ltd, and acquired a property on Memorial Drive, and converted it into offices for each of their 3 businesses, as well as rental to other businesses. Ern and Kay later acquired the property from their two partners, and still operate from there today. In 1999, with ownership and direction changes at Anthony Insurance, Ern and Kay transitioned to a different Property and Casualty Insurance broker, Steers Insurance Ltd, where Ern took on the role of Branch Manager, and Kay continued as an Insurance Representative, with the task of developing a larger client base for Steers Insurance in the Burin Peninsula, Clarenville, and Bonavista area. Both tackled that goal with vigour, and in a year or so saw the need to hire more staff. That continued to the point where in 2019, Steers office in Clarenville is staffed with 5 persons, and is one of the largest insurance offices in the area.
Kay stepped back from being a full time Self-Employed Insurance Representative, after 30 years, about 5 years ago because of migraine headaches, but still holds her Licence to sell insurance for Steers Insurance Ltd. in NL and Lab, and continues to assist Ern in his insurance work, when needed. In addition to being licensed to sell Property and Casualty Insurance in NL and Lab, Ern is licensed to sell Life and Accident and Sickness Insurance in NL, ON, and Alberta. He is a member of the Life Underwriters Association of Canada, and a member of the Independent Financial Brokers Association of Canada.
They also have not forgotten their community, and have given back through volunteering and donations to many causes. Kay volunteered for many years with the local Kiwanis Club and fundraised for the clubs various activities, and, in particular, played a significant role in the annual Kiwanis Music Festival in Clarenville, which helped hundreds of children from Marystown to Bonavista, and points in between, display their musical talent. She also participated in ladies softball and bowling teams, and loved her time as a member of the Random Sound Ladies Barbershop Chorus and Community Choir. In recent years she has become an active volunteer with St. Mary’s Anglican Church. She enjoys spending time with family in Clarenville and Peterborough, but hates the airplane. She spends much of her leisure time snowshoeing at White Hills, walking, is learning to sketch and paint, and looks forward to the berries getting ripe in 2019, as do the many people that enjoy the berries that Kay gives them.
Ern has been an active member of the Chamber of Commerce in Clarenville for decades, and also is a member of chambers in Arnold’s Cove and Bonavista. Ern has represented the Chamber on the Board of White Hills ski resort for about 10 years, chaired the Economic Development Committee and many other sub-committees of the Chamber. In 1998, Ern was recognized by ACOA for his several years of committee work towards setting up the Bonavista Peninsula and Surrounding Area Community Futures Development Corporation, which is now (through Eastern Initiative Community Business Development Corp.) a very active contributor to the economy of the region.
The Rotary Club of Clarenville, where Ern has been an active member for decades, has recognized Ern for his volunteer work with that organization by awarding him the True Rotarian Award on two occasions, and also has awarded him a Paul Harris Fellow award “In appreciation of tangible and significant assistance given for the furtherance of better understanding and friendly relations among peoples of the world.” Ern has played on both fast pitch and slow pitch softball teams, is a regular Tuesday night bowler in the men’s league, enjoys hunting, fishing, and snowmobiling, and tags along with Kay to help her out with her berry-picking. When they can get away, they spend weekends at their cottage in Gambo, the second home they have owned for over 35 years.