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Super Senior: Ellen Braithwaite

At her summer home in West Glover, Ellen Braithwaite has discovered a treasure trove of memories -- a half-century of living in the Northeast Kingdom.
Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 5:22 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 24, 2022 at 6:31 AM EDT
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WEST GLOVER, Vt. (WCAX) - At her summer home in West Glover, Ellen Braithwaite has discovered a treasure trove of memories -- a half-century of living in the Northeast Kingdom.

“I thought all of these pictures were lost,” Braithwaite said.

She came to the NEK with her husband, Chris Braithwaite, from Toronto. They were part of the second wave of the back-to-the-land movement in the ‘60s and ‘70s, so-called hippies who desired a simpler life. Braithwaite joined Glover’s Bread & Puppet Theater.

Chris, a journalist, had a desire to start up a newspaper, and The Barton Chronicle was born.

“When you own your own business, there’s a lot of things to do,” Braithwaite said. While Chris reported, she ran the office. The paper became a success but the marriage was in trouble. Eventually, the couple went their separate ways. “We were married for 25 years, have four kids.”

Braithwaite started a new chapter on the water.

Reporter Joe Carroll: What’s the feeling like when you’re out here?

Ellen Braithwaite: Glorious... Being on the water is really being part of the natural world.

She keeps her rowing scull at a familiar place -- Lake Parker -- where she and her former husband continue to share a camp. They’ve remained friends.

Reporter Joe Carroll: So, your type of boat is one with an engine.

Chris Braithwaite: yup!

Years ago, Chris did pick up a paddle. “She said, ‘That was wonderful, best thing I’ve ever done. What do you think?’ I said, ‘I think it’s about the dumbest thing I’ve ever did, and then we went our separate ways,” Chris recalled.

Braithwaite left the paper and took an office job at the nearby Craftsbury Outdoor Center, one of the first sculling camps in the country. “I had a job right inside that door,” Braithwaite said.

But her boss wanted every employee to understand the environment, so her job transitioned from the desk to the dock. She eventually became a good rower. So good that she worked herself up to win a world rowing event in Montreal in her age group. Since 2006, the now 75-year-old has been an instructor at the center.

Reporter Joe Carroll: What do you enjoy more, competing or coaching?

Ellen Braithwaite: Coaching now... I think it’s important to recognize that we are not all in our 20s.

Reporter Joe Carroll: But mentally now, do you think you’re stronger than when you first started?

Ellen Braithwaite: I do.

“The wonderful thing about how she does it is that it’s so low-key. She’s a very competitive rower,” Chris said.

“Just keep on rowing and keep on learning new things,” Braithwaite said.

A mind and body in motion.

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